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U.S. gives $120M to aid fleeing Venezuelan migrants

By Darryl Coote

Sept. 4 (UPI) -- The Trump Administration announced Wednesday that it would give over $120 million in humanitarian assistance to countries dealing with Venezuelan migrants fleeing the economic hardships of their embattled country.

According to United Nations data, more than 4 million Venezuelans have left the country in the past few years, the vast majority of them seeking refuge in nearby Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

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The humanitarian assistance, announced by Deputy Secretary John Sullivan and Mark Green of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Cucuta, Columbia, will go to non-governmental organizations and U.N. partners in the region to provide support to Venezuelans within their borders.

"This additional funding provides vital support, including emergency food and health assistance, to vulnerable Venezuelans in Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and throughout the region," U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. "This assistance brings the U.S. contribution to the Venezuelan regional crisis response to more than $376 million."

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The announcement of aid comes as Ivanka Trump, an advisor to her father, President Donald Trump, was in the country as part of diplomatic visits to the region, visiting a migrant camp in Colombia.

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During her visit on Wednesday, she honored female Venezuelan leaders while meeting women who left their home country for Colombia.

Colombia has been the most stressed due to the recent influx of Venezuelans fleeing economic hardships, receiving some 1.4 million.

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The Trump administration has laid blame for the situation on embattled President Nicolas Maduro, saying his "devasting and corrupt policies" have created untenable living conditions while also repeatedly slapping the country and Maduro loyalists with sanctions.

The United States has backed opposition leader and appointed interim president, Juan Guaido, in his nearly yearlong fight to unseat Maduro since his 2018 re-election was deemed illegitimate in January.

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