The suffering of millions of refugees and migrants from Venezuela is one of the biggest human tragedies of our times.
Over the past 16 months, the pandemic has further pushed many of them to the brink of hunger, malnutrition and disease.
And as if the situation could not get any worse, their host countries are among the hardest hit by COVID-19 and its social and economic effects.
And yet, these countries are showing remarkable solidarity.
Together, the countries of the region are hosting 5.6 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela, a number only topped by the Syrian catastrophe.
And Colombia has broken new ground by announcing a 10-year protection statute for Venezuelan refugees.
We applaud your courage and leadership.
And we have come here today to match your solidarity – not only in words, but in deeds.
We have increased our funding for the Venezuelan crisis significantly. 12.7 million Euro of humanitarian assistance have already been disbursed.
And I am glad to announce another 35.4 million Euro of humanitarian assistance and 23.6 million Euro of development funds for 2021, bringing our total support to 71.7 million Euro this year alone.
But as important as these pledges - our solidarity must go beyond them.
The international community must stand together to address the root cause of this crisis, which is the Maduro regime’s ignorance towards the suffering of its people.
Today, we appeal to the regime
- to stop politicizing humanitarian assistance,
- to stop intimidating humanitarian workers,
- to stop its crack-down on civil society,
- and to stop harassing independent media.
The only way out of Venezuela’s crisis are free and fair elections – at all levels.
We therefore urge all parties involved to engage in a new round of negotiations between the regime and the democratic forces.
We are willing to support a political solution as good as we can.
For the sake of the people of Venezuela.
And for the sake of the entire region.
Thank you very much!