GENEVA / VENEZUELA UPDATE

08-Feb-2019 00:02:41
The situation for ordinary Venezuelans is increasingly critical but the United Nations remains committed to helping them on humanitarian grounds, UN agencies said on Friday. UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / VENEZUELA UPDATE
TRT: 2:41
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 08 FEBRUARY 2019, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
FILE - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, Palais des Nations exterior

08 FEBRUARY 2019, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. Wide shot, press room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Jens Laerke, Spokesperson, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
“On the situation at the border, yes, the UN is monitoring that situation closely. I have no further information as of now to the situation there and cannot go into that any further than what I have said. But there certainly is a close monitoring of that situation.”
4. Med shot journalists
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Hervé Verhoosel, Senior Spokesperson, World Food Programme (WFP):
“How can we know if people are starving or not? Just stay at the border with Colombia and look who is coming in Colombia; 1.2 million people just last year; 1.2 million people were coming, starving, in Colombia with no money, no food, no medicine. There are no questions, whatever the numbers are, yes of course there’s a crisis in the country. Yes of course people need all the UN system, need the food, need the education, need the medicine.”
6. Med shot, journalists
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Jens Laerke, Spokesperson, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
“The ideal scenario is that humanitarian aid is provided independent, independent of any political or other considerations, than the pure humanitarian and that is based on need and need alone.”
8. Med shot, podium
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Rogier Huizenga, Human Rights Manager and Secretary of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (IPU):
“The most information that we have is on the situation of the speaker of the National Assembly Mr Guaido, but also know for instance that Ms Delsa Solorzano, also a prominent member of opposition in Parliament in Venezuela, has been accused of having been involved in some kind of incitement to violence through what appears to be a doctored WhatsApp exchange. So she is accused as a result of that, she had to go into hiding for a couple of days.”
10. Close up, journalists
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Jens Laerke, Spokesperson, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):
“Since November, UN agencies have been scaling up existing activities inside Venezuela to meet urgent health, nutrition and protection needs. This highly prioritized plan requires 109.5 million USD. Up to now we only 49.1 million USD received against that plan.”
12. Close up, microphone
13. Various shots, journalists
STORYLINE
The situation for ordinary Venezuelans is increasingly critical but the United Nations remains committed to helping them on humanitarian grounds, UN agencies said on Friday (08 Feb).

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, the UN’s aid coordinating branch (OCHA) underlined that it was observing developments at Venezuela’s border with Colombia, where an aid convoy arrived on Thursday.

“On the situation at the border, yes, the UN is monitoring that situation closely,” said Jens Laerke from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “I have no further information as of now to the situation there and cannot go into that any further than what I have said. But there certainly is a close monitoring of that situation.”

Several resident UN agencies work inside Venezuela including UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with the Pan-American health Organization, UNAIDS, UN refugee agency (UNHCR), UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

At the border, the World Food Programme (WFP) confirmed that needs are at crisis-like levels inside Venezuela, where opposition politician Juan Guaido declared himself interim President last month, amid a deepening economic and political crisis.
“How can we know if people are starving or not? Just stay at the border with Colombia, and look who is coming in Colombia,” said WFP senior spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel. “1.2 million people were coming, starving, in Colombia with no money, no food, no medicine. There are no questions, whatever the numbers are, yes of course there’s a crisis in the country. Yes of course people need all the UN system, need the food, need the education, need the medicine.”

WFP has been providing emergency food assistance at the Colombian border since early 2018.

From April to December last year, the agency provided emergency food assistance to 290,000 people in the country’s border departments of Arauca, La Guajira, Norte de Santander and Nariño.

Venezuelan migrants, Colombian returnees and host communities have been assisted, Verhoosel explained, adding that the flow of migrants into Colombia is expected to rise.

“The ideal scenario is that humanitarian aid is provided independent, independent of any political or other considerations than the pure humanitarian, and that is based on need and need alone,” OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke said.

In a bid to help 3.6 million Venezuelans including two million children, OCHA has appealed for nearly 110 million USD.

The UN has already helped local institutions by providing medical kits for women and children, and aid teams are also delivering 100,000 treatments for severe acute malnutrition. Six temporary shelters have also been set up in the western border states to house 1,600 people and offer them protection and information, as well as family kits containing food and clothing.
Laerke said, “Since November, UN agencies have been scaling up existing activities inside Venezuela to meet urgent health, nutrition and protection needs. This highly prioritized plan requires 109.5 million USD. Up to now we only have 49.1 million USD received against that plan.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that it is continuing to work with the authorities through the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), notably to prevent and control communicable and non-communicable diseases.

In 2018, around 50 tons of medicines and supplies were delivered to Venezuela by PAHO. Since measles was first reported in July 2017, there have been 6,395 confirmed cases, including 76 deaths as of December 2018.

This led to the re-launch of the vaccination campaign in August 2018, with coverage rate reaching 95 per cent of children aged up to 15 years old. Reported cases of measles appear to be declining,.

In addition to food and medical shortages inside the oil-rich country, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) noted that that dozens of opposition politicians continue to face ongoing harassment there.

“The most information that we have is on the situation of the speaker of the National Assembly Mr Guaido,” said Rogier Huizenga, Human Rights Manager and Secretary of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.

He added, “But we also know for instance that Miss Delsa Solorzano, also a prominent member of opposition in Parliament in Venezuela, has been accused of having been involved in some kind of incitement to violence, through what appears to be a doctored WhatsApp exchange. So, she is accused as a result of that, she had to go into hiding for a couple of days.”

The IPU official explained that its human rights panel had looked at cases of 60 opposition Members of Parliament in Venezuela who are facing different kinds of what he called intimidation.

More than 40 Members of Parliament had faced physical attacks and six had fled abroad, he said, noting also that the former Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly was still sheltering in the Chilean embassy in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.
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