Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Questions (56, 61)

Niall Collins


56. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding the situation in Venezuela; the efforts being made by the EU and the international community to bring stability to the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25179/19]

View answer

Clare Daly


61. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to a recent report which estimated that US sanctions imposed on Venezuela in August 2017 caused around 40,000 deaths in 2017 and 2018 (details supplied); his views on whether additional US sanctions in January 2019 will have exacerbated the effects of the sanctions; and the representations he has made or will make to the authorities in the United States of America with a view to bringing an end to punitive sanctions on the people of Venezuela. [24935/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 56 and 61 together.

The ongoing political, social, economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela continues to have a devastating effect on the Venezuelan population, and an ever-growing impact on the wider region. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation of Migration announced earlier this month that the number of Venezuelans who have left the country since 2015 has now reached over 4 million.

The needs of the Venezuelan people are acute. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 25% of the population, approximately 7 million people, are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Ireland is fully supportive of the UN-coordinated response mechanism for humanitarian aid in the country, and of the €117 million in EU funding since 2018 for humanitarian assistance. The recent partial reopening of the border between Colombia and Venezuela has facilitated increased humanitarian activity, and it is critical that humanitarian organisations have unimpeded access to effectively deliver and significantly scale up assistance.

Ireland welcomes the talks process between the Maduro administration and the opposition, facilitated by Norway, that is currently ongoing in Oslo. Ireland, along with the EU, stands ready to support this process.

It is important that all interlocutors are engaged in the search for a solution to this complex crisis. I am aware of US restrictive measures on a number of actors in Venezuela, and my Department monitors developments in this area closely.

I continue to believe that this crisis can only have a political, peaceful, democratic solution, excluding the use of force, through the holding of free, transparent and credible Presidential elections as soon as possible.

The EU continues to work towards this goal, and Ireland fully supports the EU’s International Contact Group’s dual aims of finding a negotiated electoral path and of enabling the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance. The ICG continues to engage with relevant international and regional actors, including the Lima Group, the US, CARICOM, Russia, China, Cuba, the Holy See and several multilateral organisations. A senior ICG meeting will take place in the coming weeks.

I further welcome the recent appointment by EU High Representative Mogherini of an EU Special Advisor for Venezuela, Mr Enrique Iglesias. Special Advisor Iglesias will be well placed to engage with relevant stakeholders in Venezuela, and with international and regional actors, in the search for a peaceful solution to the crisis.