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United States sends humanitarian aid to Venezuela

By Sommer Brokaw
United States sends humanitarian aid to Venezuela
USAID relief supplies are shown en route to Colombia Saturday as part of the U.S. response to humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Photo courtesy of Mark Green/USAID

Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The United States sent humanitarian aid to Colombia Saturday to help tens of thousands of Venezuelans in crisis, federal officials said.

A U.S. shipment of humanitarian aid from Miami landed in Cucuta, Colombia.

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The United States Agency for International Development said the relief is expected to go to "tens of thousands of Venezuelans who are suffering from severe shortages of food and medicine."

USAID added that the crisis was "caused by the mismanagement of the illegitimate [President Nicolas] Maduro regime."

Ahead of the aid, the Venezuelan military used two containers and a liquid tank carrier to block travel lanes of a bridge connecting the country to the Colombian city of Cucuta earlier this month. It's uncertain exactly how the aid will get to the country.

Still, opposition leader Juan Guaido, the National Assembly president, whom the United States and nearly 60 other countries have recognized as interim president instead of Maduro, said aid will somehow enter Venezuela on Feb. 23.

The Department of State coordinated the shipment of three military cargo planes along with USAID.

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The C-17 cargo planes contain relief supplies including food, medical emergency kits and hygiene kits.

The United States also provided more than $140 million to support the efforts of countries in the region hosting the more than 3 million refugees from Venezuela since fiscal year 2017, USAID said.

On Jan. 24, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced $20 million in additional funding "to support humanitarian assistance activities in Venezuela."

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