Holyrood cash for refugees fleeing Venezuela

2 March 2019, 09:58 | Updated: 2 March 2019, 10:02

scottish parliament

Emergency funding to support refugees fleeing from Venezuela has been announced by the Scottish Government.

International Development Minister Ben Macpherson has donated £220,000 from the Humanitarian Emergency Fund (HEF) to charities providing aid for those escaping the crisis-hit country.

The South American nation has suffered economic collapse and inflation exceeding one million percent, leaving an estimated 3.7 million people malnourished.

Violent clashes have been erupting over opposition to socialist president Nicolas Maduro, with internationally-supported Juan Guaido declaring himself interim president.

Maduro partially closed the country's borders last weekend to prevent aid trucks entering, triggering further violent scenes.

More than three million Venezuelans have fled the country in the past three years, mostly to neighbouring Columbia where the charities being supported by the Scottish Government are working in refugee settlements.

The £220,000 will be channelled through two Christian aid agencies, Tearfund and SCIAF, to provide vital food, shelter and health supplies.

Announcing the funding, Mr Macpherson said: "The growing political unrest in Venezuela has caused devastating suffering, with millions becoming malnourished.

"Scotland is a good global citizen and our Humanitarian Emergency Fund provides immediate and effective assistance where it is needed most, to reduce the threat to life and wellbeing caused by disasters, disease or conflict.

"By funding emergency assistance to Venezuelan migrants displaced to Colombia, we can make an immediate difference in areas accessible to agencies, to people in critical need of support."

Tearfund's project will provide humanitarian aid to four settlements around the city of Baranquilla, distributing food vouchers to 500 Venezuelan families, as well as drinking water, hygiene kits and emergency medicine.

It will also provide cooked meals for 150 children under 10 who are considered most at risk of malnutrition.

SCIAF's project will target more than 10,600 Venezuelan migrants in remote areas of Colombia not currently receiving humanitarian aid.

It will provide shelters and safe houses, food packs and hygiene kits, clothing, and transport, psychosocial support and legal guidance.