Good morning. On behalf of the United States, I would like to thank our hosts for convening this conference.  We also want to take an opportunity to reaffirm our gratitude to the governments and citizens of the 16 countries generously hosting the nearly 4.5 million Venezuelans who are forcibly displaced.

The crisis in Venezuela is one of the highest foreign policy priorities of the U.S. government. The United States has been the largest financial donor to the Venezuelan crisis response and in addition to the $119 million in humanitarian funds announced by Secretary of State Pompeo in late September, I am happy to announce today more than 10 million additional dollars in U.S. government health and development assistance. This additional funding will provide HIV/AIDS treatment, critical vaccinations, and anti-human trafficking activities.  It brings the total U.S. government crisis response to more than $650 million, nearly $473 million of which is life-saving humanitarian assistance that promotes stability in Venezuela and in the region.

The United States works with international and nongovernmental partners to complement the efforts of governments hosting Venezuelan refugees. We provide temporary shelter, and access to food, water, and sanitation facilities.  Our assistance also increases the capacity of asylum authorities in the region and provides legal support to Venezuelan asylum seekers.  Our programs also help Venezuelans integrate into their host communities by helping them find employment and access to education and health care.

Despite the Maduro regime’s efforts to block humanitarian access, the United States is also providing lifesaving assistance inside Venezuela. The Secretary’s September announcement included nearly $36 million for humanitarian operations inside Venezuela, including towards the UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan. This assistance will provide urgently needed medicine, hygiene kits, and support for disease surveillance and immunization efforts. U.S. humanitarian partners will also be able to provide water, hot meals, and programs to protect vulnerable Venezuelans from violence and exploitation.

I would like to use this opportunity to highlight some of the gaps that remain in the response to the Venezuelan crisis. First, there are disturbing indicators that women are suffering greatly from gender-based violence and are at risk of human trafficking, particularly in areas bordering Venezuela.  We support the regional Platform’s efforts to counter gender-based violence and trafficking in the response. Second, the danger of discrimination against Venezuelans seeking work, shelter, health care, and education remains clear and present.  Third, we need to focus on longer-term integration and coordination between humanitarian assistance and development.  We welcome greater participation by international financial institutions such as the World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank, the private sector, as well as the Venezuelan diaspora and civil society.

We’re concerned the Regional Response Plan will not be able to reach all Venezuelans as planned by the end of the year and that about 52 percent of the plan remains unfunded. We encourage more financial assistance from international donors and we will continue to look for ways to coordinate our efforts with others, including many of you here today. We want to ensure a comprehensive, robust response.  We look forward to the Quito Five in Bogota next month and again, we appreciate you bringing us all together here today to highlight this crisis.  Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future