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Open humanitarian channel amid migration crisis, Colombia tells Venezuela

Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin speaks during a press conference in Lima, Peru, 13 February 2018, after a meeting of the Lima Group, where they discussed measures to be taken after the announcement of early presidential elections in Venezuela on 22 April. EFE

Lima, Feb 13 (EFE).- The Colombian Foreign Minister on Tuesday urged Venezuela to open a humanitarian channel to tackle the migration crisis and to help its citizens receive medicines and food.

“We should once again call on the government of Venezuela to open a humanitarian channel, to allow its citizens the possibility of receiving medicines and food,” Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said during a meeting held Tuesday by the Lima Group in the Peruvian capital.

Holguin said that on the border between Venezuela and her country there is “a terrible situation” as “Venezuelans increasingly arrive in Colombia in worse conditions, with greater needs for medicines, medical treatments, hospitals, and, above everything, food.”

“We ask Venezuela to think about its people. It has to think about Venezuelans. Whether it is humanitarian or not is really less important than allowing the international community, which we are ready to support and collaborate, to have a humanitarian channel,” she added.

The foreign minister described the situation in Colombia as “really impressive,” as well as in Brazil and several other countries in the region regarding the amount of Venezuelans they receive.

“The number of Venezuelans leaving their country has more than quadrupled due to this economic and social situation,” she said.

A handout photo made available by the the newspaper La Opinion shows an aerial view of thousands of Venezuelans entering Colombia through the Simon Bolivar international bridge in Cucuta, Colombia, 09 February 2018. EFE

Holguin added that for Colombia this “is a primordial issue” as her country wants to “lend all the support and collaboration to these Venezuelans,” although she insisted that the migration proceed with “order and legality.”

“Colombia has 2,200 kilometers of border with Venezuela, along which there are only three bridges where they can cross legally, but the territory where they can pass illegally is immensely large,” she explained.

In her statement before the Lima Group, Holguin also denied the possibility that Colombia is participating in preparations for a military intervention in Venezuela.

“We have enough problems in Colombia to think about rather than a military intervention in Venezuela. We have never thought about it,” she emphasized.

The Colombian foreign minister participated Tuesday in the meeting of the Lima Group, which protests against the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s participation in the upcoming Summit of the Americas, scheduled for Apr. 13 – 14 in the Peruvian capital.

The group consists of the foreign ministers and representatives of Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru, while Saint Lucia has also confirmed its firm rejection and call for the reconsideration of Venezuela’s forthcoming presidential elections.

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