On behalf of the United States, I would like to thank our hosts for convening this conference. We are grateful to the governments and citizens of the 16 regional countries generously hosting the more than five million Venezuelans who have been forced to flee from Venezuela.
We are heartened to see strong participation by international donors today, and encourage your continued support to the Venezuela crisis response. The United States will continue to be a catalyst for a peaceful, political resolution to the crisis, as proposed in the Democratic Transition Framework.
The United States remains the largest single donor with more than $856 million in assistance since 2017, of which nearly $611 million is humanitarian assistance for both inside Venezuela and throughout the region. This includes more than $200 million in humanitarian and development assistance announced by Secretary of State Pompeo on May 20.
Last year, I traveled to Colombia to see the situation first-hand and witnessed Colombia’s outstanding response. I met an 18-year-old Venezuelan woman at a Bogota bus terminal who had walked most of the way from Cucuta – almost 400 miles – carrying her young baby in her arms. Through U.S.-supported programs, this woman and other vulnerable individuals are able to access protection and assistance, such as shelter, registration, education, and health care.
Despite the Maduro regime’s efforts to hinder humanitarian access inside Venezuela, the United States continues to provide life-saving assistance. Secretary Pompeo’s announcement last week included nearly $21 million for humanitarian operations inside Venezuela. This assistance will provide urgently needed emergency food assistance, hygiene kit distribution, and protection from gender-based violence.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Venezuelans, particularly those in vulnerable situations. Since the outbreak, the United States has committed more than $1 billion globally in emergency health, humanitarian, economic, and development assistance. This includes support for Venezuela and for surrounding countries already seeing a rise in humanitarian needs as a result of the economic and political crisis in Venezuela.
We welcome the engagement of those who are here today, reflecting a collective commitment to shore up urgently required funding needed to address and mitigate the crisis, and we strongly encourage robust support by international donors today, as well as beyond this conference. Thank you.
I now give the floor to my colleague, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator, Amy Tohill-Stull.