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.