Pence announces $16M in aid for refugees fleeing Venezuela
Vice President Mike Pence on Friday pledged nearly $16 million in humanitarian aid for Venezuelans who have fled a deepening economic and political crisis in the country.
The funding from the State Department and USAID will go to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the U.N. agency responsible for assisting refugees and displaced persons, and is intended to help Venezuelans who have fled to Brazil and Columbia.
The latest pledge brings funding for the U.S. humanitarian response to the crisis in Venezuela to more than $21 million since 2017, according to the State Department.
The announcement came as Pence arrived in Lima, Peru, for the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders that takes place every three years.
He made the announcement on Friday during a meeting with Venezuelan opposition leaders.
“The Venezuelan people are literally, in many cases, starving. Many have died of starvation and deprivation, and millions have fled the oppression of the dictatorship in Venezuela,” Pence said.
He vowed that the Trump administration would keep up “economic and diplomatic pressure” on the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The U.S. has sharply criticized Maduro’s government as undemocratic.
Venezuela’s economy has suffered amid drops in oil prices and economic mismanagement, causing sky-high inflation and widespread food and medicine shortages.