Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Questions (70)

Seán Haughey


70. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the situation in Venezuela; the position of Ireland on the ongoing political crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48025/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The current crisis in Venezuela continues to be of deep concern and is having a worsening impact on the Venezuelan people, whose needs are acute. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that 25% of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance, with serious health and medical needs and a severe lack of access to basic goods, services and medicines and medical care. Ireland is fully supportive of the UN-coordinated response mechanism for humanitarian aid in the country, and of the €117 million in funding provided by the EU since 2018 for humanitarian assistance.  

The ongoing humanitarian, economic, social and political crisis is also having an ever-growing effect on neighbouring countries, which are hosting approximately 80% of the 4.6 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants that are estimated by the UN High Commissioners for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) to have left the country since 2015. It is essential that these countries are supported and the EU has responded to this need by hosting an International Solidarity Conference on the Venezuelan Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Brussels on 28 and 29 October. This conference was co-hosted by the UNHCR and the IOM, and Ireland was represented at official level.

I also discussed the situation in Venezuela with the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, H.E. Carlos Holmes Trujillo García, during his visit to Dublin in September this year. Nowhere has the impact of the Venezuelan crisis been felt more strongly than in Colombia, which has received over 1.5 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees since 2015, more than any other country. 

I have already authorised the deployment of two Rapid Responders to assist the UNHCR in supporting the Colombian Government’s response to the humanitarian needs of Venezuelans in Colombia. Ireland has also contributed €1 million to UNHCR towards this effort. We stand ready to assist further as the situation evolves.   

I continue to firmly 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. I, along with my EU partners, have regularly voiced support for the Oslo Talks process, facilitated by Norway. While these talks have now been suspended, Ireland encourages both sides to engage in good faith in an inclusive, serious and results-oriented process.

Ireland also supports EU efforts, including through the International Contact Group (ICG) and Special Adviser Enrique Iglesias, who is engaging with all relevant actors and stakeholders in efforts to secure and support a Venezuelan-owned solution to the current crisis. I welcome the ICG statement issued on 1 November that reaffirms the Group's view that only a negotiated transition that leads to credible elections with international observation, the re-institutionalisation of public powers, and guarantees that allow political coexistence, can bring a lasting solution to the crisis. The statement also notes that Special Advisor Iglesias will visit Caracas to engage with all relevant national stakeholders in the near future, and I look forward to receiving a report of this visit after it occurs.  

We will continue to monitor the situation in Venezuela and to engage on the issue until a lasting solution to the crisis is found.