Mattis says he'll dispatch Navy hospital ship to help Venezuelan migrants

Mattis says he'll dispatch Navy hospital ship to help Venezuelan migrants
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Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisArmy chief: Poland doesn’t have space for ‘Fort Trump’ The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump Overnight Defense: Mattis dismisses talk he may be leaving | Polish president floats 'Fort Trump' | Dem bill would ban low-yield nukes MORE said Friday that a U.S. Navy hospital ship will be deployed to the Colombian coast to treat refugees from Venezuela.

“It is absolutely a humanitarian mission. We’re not sending soldiers, we’re sending doctors,” Mattis told reporters on Friday, according to the Miami Herald.

The secretary described the move as a way to “deal with the human cost of [Venezuelan President Nicolas] Maduro and his increasingly isolated regime.” 

The United Nations said earlier this week that an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country amid economic and political crisis as of June, with many going to countries such as Colombia and Brazil.

The U.N. has deemed the situation to be a refugee crisis.

“Can you imagine more than a million refugees right now in one of our most populous states, say California, and what that would do for that one state,” Mattis told reporters of the situation.

“Put that on steroids down here and you can see why this is a time when one of our fellow democracies is in trouble and we have to come in and help each other.”

The Trump administration has been highly critical of the Maduro regime in Venezuela, imposing sanctions on the country and offering millions of dollars in aid for refugees fleeing the nation.

The president last year wouldn't rule out the possibility of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela.