U.N. approves $9 million in aid for crisis-stricken Venezuela

The United Nations on Monday announced $9.2 million in health and nutritional aid for crisis-stricken Venezuela, where hunger and preventable disease are soaring amid the collapse of the country’s socialist economic system.

The U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) will support projects to provide nutritional support to children under five years old, pregnant women and lactating mothers at risk, and emergency health care for the vulnerable.

Venezuela has been in an economic depression for at least half a decade, adding to hyperinflation and mass food shortages. Millions of citizens have left Venezuela to find more opportunity in other Latin American countries.

About the UN Central Emergency Response Fund:

It is a humanitarian fund established by the United Nations General Assembly on December 15, 2005, and launched in March 2006.

With CERF’s objectives to 1) promote early action and response to reduce the loss of life; 2) enhance response to time-critical requirements; and 3) strengthen core elements of humanitarian response in underfunded crises, CERF seeks to enable more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts.

The fund is replenished annually through contributions from governments, the private sector, foundations, and individuals.

Allocations:

The CERF grant element is divided into two windows:

Rapid Responses (approximately two-thirds of the grant element)

The Rapid Response window provides funds intended to mitigate the unevenness and delays of the voluntary contribution system by providing seed money for life-saving, humanitarian activities in the initial days and weeks of a sudden onset crisis or a deterioration in an ongoing situation. The maximum amount applied to a crisis in a given year typically does not exceed $30 million, although higher allocations can be made in exceptional circumstances.

Underfunded Emergencies (approximately one-third of the grant element).

The Underfunded Emergencies window supports countries that are significantly challenged by “forgotten” emergencies.

Hyperinflation is the biggest problem faced by Venezuela. The inflation rate there is expected to reach a stunning one million percent this year, putting it on par with the crises of Zimbabwe in the 2000s and Germany in the 1920s, according to the International Monetary Fund. The government claims that the country is the victim of “economic war” and that the major issues are due to opposition “plots” and American sanctions.

What caused this increase?

The plummeting oil prices since 2014 is one of the main reasons why Venezuela’s currency has weakened sharply. The country, which has rich oil reserves largely depended on it for its revenue. But when the oil price dropped drastically in 2014, Venezuela which received 96 percent of its revenue from the oil exports, suffered a shortage of foreign currency. This made import of basic essentials like food and medicines difficult.

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