QUITO – A group of Latin American countries signed a resolution on Tuesday urging Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro to accept humanitarian aid to “alleviate” the country’s migration crisis.
Hundreds of thousands of people have fled an economic collapse in Venezuela that has resulted in food and medicine shortages as well as failing public services.
Following two days of meetings hosted by Ecuador, the signatories called for “the creation of a humanitarian assistance mechanism that will allow the critical situation to be alleviated” and would target “the source” of “affected citizens.”
The group also called on Venezuela to “accept the cooperation of governments in the region and international organizations” to care for the communities of their nations living there.
Of the 13 countries meeting in Quito, only Venezuela’s left-wing ally, Bolivia, refused to sign the document, while the Dominican Republic was unable to do so immediately for administrative reasons.
According to the United Nations, some 1.6 million people have left Venezuela since 2015.
The country is suffering a fourth year of recession, while the International Monetary Fund says inflation will reach 1 million percent this year.
Migrants have faced arduous journeys, often on foot, to try to find shelter in nearby countries.
Colombia says it has given temporary residence to 870,000 Venezuelans, while Peru claims more than 400,000 have entered its country.
Such has been the unprecedented influx that Peru introduced tighter border controls last month to stem some of the tide.
A group of just over a thousand Venezuelan migrants were driven back over the border from northwestern Brazil last month by an angry mob following a rumor that a group of newcomers had badly beaten a local shopkeeper.
Some Venezuelans have been reduced to sleeping in the streets in host countries while relying on handouts in order to eat.
Venezuela denies it has a migration problem and has accused the U.N. and “enemy countries” of exaggerating the issue.
Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said Monday that unnamed U.N. officials have been portraying “a normal migratory flow as a humanitarian crisis to justify an intervention.”