U.N. approves first emergency aid for Venezuela

 U.N. approves first emergency aid for Venezuela

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations emergency fund released $9.2 million to Venezuela on Monday to support humanitarian programmes including health and nutritional assistance to women and children, its first allocation in the crisis.

The agreement represents a turnaround for the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro, who blames sanctions for the political and economic crisis that has wracked his oil-rich country, and has largely refused international assistance.

Venezuela's Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the U.N. programme.

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

"It is the first release of CERF money for the current situation in Venezuela," a U.N. official told Reuters.

Venezuela, an OPEC member, is reeling from hyperinflation, major food and medicine shortages and rampant crime, which have led some 3 million people to flee the country, most of them since 2015, according to U.N. figures.

The exodus to neighbouring countries, which has accelerated in the past six months, amounts to around one in 12 of the population.

Some U.N. funds will go to help "people on the move in the border communities in the states of Apure, Tachira and Zulia", in western Venezuela along the border with Colombia, the CERF statement said. Colombia is sheltering 1 million Venezuelans, with some 3,000 more arriving each day.

(Reporting and writing by Stephanie Nebehay; additional reporting by Luc Cohen in Caracas; Editing by Kevin Liffey/Mark Heinrich)

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Updated Date: Nov 27, 2018 01:06:09 IST