Venezuela is currently facing an unprecedented political, social, economic and humanitarian crisis resulting in an increasing number of deaths, refugees and migrants. The situation is further deteriorated by the fact that despite the readiness of the international community, the Venezuelan Government persists in denying the problem and refuses to receive and facilitate the distribution of international humanitarian aid.
Institutional repression further escalates the humanitarian crisis
The current crisis is due to the bad politics of Nicolas Maduro, which have further deteriorated the already weak economy of the country when he came to power in 2013. The International Monetary Fund has projected that hyperinflation in Venezuela will soar to 13,000% in 2018, up from an estimated 2400% in 2017, resulting in price increases of, on average, almost 1.5% every hour. A growing number of people in Venezuela, including children, women and sick people are suffering from malnutrition because of limited access to quality health services, medicines and food.
The humanitarian emergency is doubled by the systematic and institutional violence and repression which present an undeniable threat to democracy and security. The illegal Constituent Assembly has taken over legislative power from the democratically-elected National Assembly. Numerous members of the democratic opposition have been imprisoned. Since January 2014 and the beginning of the opposition movement to president Maduro’s rule, almost 12,000 people have been detained because of their political convictions.
The number of political prisoners amounted to 603 in 2017 and more than 130 people were killed in the protests.
The illegal and undemocratic re-election on May 20 of Nicolas Maduro further worsened the situation in the country. A UN Human Rights report published on 22 June 2018 spotlights the failure of the Venezuelan authorities to hold accountable perpetrators of serious human rights violations that include killings, the use of excessive force against demonstrators, arbitrary detentions, ill-treatment and torture. Impunity also appears to be pervasive in favour of security officers suspected of extrajudicial killings of demonstrators. Such findings further escalate the tense situation in the country.
Dramatic increase of Venezuelans fleeing the country
The worsening situation in the country is pushing Venezuelans to seek shelter abroad, mainly in the neighbouring countries. According to UNHCR and IOM, the number of Venezuelans who have left the country has increased dramatically from 437,000 in 2005 to over 1.6 million in 2017. Around 945,000 Venezuelans left the country between 2015 and 2017. In 2018, the total number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants has surpassed 2 million people and since 2014, the number of Venezuelans seeking asylum abroad has increased by 2000%.
Most Venezuelans are seeking refuge in Columbia where over 820,000 have been registered. Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina and Panama are equally facing great numbers of refugees and are coming under increasing strain in terms of providing assistance to new arrivals. European countries such as Spain are also being affected.
Further sanctions against individuals responsible for breaches of human rightS
Confronted by this situation, neither the EU nor the international community can stand by idly. The EU took a first step by adopting further sanctions imposed against individuals responsible for breaches of human rights. But this is not enough.
The Venezuelan authorities must recognise the ongoing humanitarian crisis, prevent its further deterioration, and promote political and economic solutions ensuring safety for all civilians and stability for the country and the region. We demand that they allow unimpeded humanitarian aid into the country as a matter of urgency to prevent the aggravation of the humanitarian and public health crisis.
We call on Nicolas Maduro to immediately put an end to all human rights violations, to stop any violations against civilians, and to fully respect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, freedom of press and freedom of assembly. We urge the Venezuelan authorities to restore democratic order, being an indispensable condition for putting an end to the escalating crisis. We call for fresh presidential elections in accordance with internationally-recognised democratic standards fully in line with the Venezuelan constitutional order. The new legitimate government resulting from such elections must urgently address the current economic and social crisis in Venezuela and work towards the national reconciliation of the country.
Expressing our full solidarity with those who endanger their lives fighting for democracy and dignity in Venezuela, we are ready to work with the democratic opposition and the people of Venezuela in order to restore democracy in the country. We express our admiration and gratitude to all actors, namely the Catholic Church, which is providing very basic living conditions in an increasingly demanding environment to the fleeing Venezuelan population.