US announces $13.6M in aid for fleeing Venezuelans

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. Agency for Aid and Development (USAID) said Friday it will give more than $18 million in aid to Venezuelans and opposition groups in Cuba and Nicaragua.

The lion’s share of $13.6 million will go Venezuelans fleeing to neighboring countries, USAID said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The assistance will go toward water sanitation, hygiene, and other government funded programs for Venezuelans in Columbia.

That brings total U.S. humanitarian assistance for Venezuelan migrants to nearly $109 million since the beginning of fiscal year 2017

Venezuela has been wracked by skyrocketing inflation and its petroleum-centric economy has been devastated by the global decline in the price of oil.

Since 2015, many Venezuelans have fled the country due to shortages of basic necessities and hyperinflation.

"To be clear we know, all of us know, humanitarian assistance is relief, not a solution and not an answer. We know the answer must be human liberty and democracy," said USAID chief Mark Green.

He also announced $750,000 to political prisoners in Cuba, and $4 million to Nicaraguan civil society groups.