CARACAS (AP) — The U.S. government plans to pledge more than $171 million today for humanitarian and development projects to assist Venezuelans experiencing a variety of urgent needs at home and abroad.
Some of the money will go for food, water and sanitation efforts within the crisis-wracked country, while other funds are designated for emergency shelter, health care and other services for Venezuelans who have migrated to other South American nations, the U.S. Department of State told The Associated Press ahead of the announcement.
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, is expected to announce the pledged funding during a conference in Brussels. The event is designed to raise awareness of Venezuela’s protracted economic and political crisis, which has pushed millions into poverty and driven more than 7 million others to migrate, mostly within Latin America.
The pledge comes almost four months after the government of President Nicolas Maduro and Venezuela’s opposition, including the faction backed by the U.S., reached an agreement to fund social programs with money drawn from the country’s assets frozen abroad. But the fund, expected to be managed by the United Nations and to progressively receive about $3 billion, has yet to materialize.
About three-quarters of Venezuelans live on less than $1.90 a day — the international benchmark of extreme poverty. The minimum wage paid in Veneuelan bolivars is the equivalent of $5 a month, down from $30 in April.
Neither of those wages is enough to feed one person, let alone a family. The cost of a basic basket of goods for a family of four was estimated at $372 in December.
A U.N. report published last year estimated humanitarian needs at $795 million to help about 5.2 million people in Venezuela through health, education, water and sanitation, food and other projects.
The State Department said the funding being announced Friday includes more than $84 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development for health care, food, water and other services to people living in Venezuela and for emergency food assistance for Venezuelan migrants. The money will go to U.N. agencies and nongovernmental groups already operating in Venezuela.
USAID will also provide $31 million for development efforts, including socio-economic integration help for Venezuelans in Colombia, where the largest share of migrants has resettled during the crisis, and in Ecuador. Some of that amount will go to support human rights organizations, independent media outlets and other groups.
More than $56 million from the State Department will be directed to humanitarian programs for Venezuelans and their host countries, including emergency shelter, mental health services, and protection for women, Indigenous people and other vulnerable groups..