Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Ceisteanna (21)

Niall Collins


21. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the situation in Venezuela; the EU’s response to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40770/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

The ongoing political, social, economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela continues to deteriorate, severely impacting the population and wider region.

I am particularly concerned by the humanitarian situation in the country, where an estimated 25% of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance. Health and medical needs are acute with many reported cases of diseases that had previously been eradicated or near eradication and a widespread lack of access to 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 situation in the country is having an ever-growing impact on the wider region, with the number of Venezuelans who have left the country since 2015 now estimated to have reached over 4.3 million. I recently discussed the issue with Colombia’s Foreign Minister, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, whose country has taken in around 1.4 million refugees. I have already authorised the deployment of two Rapid Responders to assist the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in supporting the Colombian Government’s response to the humanitarian needs of Venezuelans in Colombia. Ireland has also contributed €1m to UNHCR towards this effort. We stand ready to assist further as the situation evolves.

I continue to believe that only a peaceful, democratic solution to this crisis will offer the people of Venezuela a return to stability and prosperity. Ireland, along with our EU partners, has regularly voiced our support for the Oslo Talks process that has been facilitated by Norway. While these talks have now been suspended, Ireland, along with our EU partners, encourages both sides to engage in good faith in an inclusive, serious and results-oriented process. We continue to call for genuine engagement and the necessary flexibility to reach a result that enables transparent and internationally monitored elections, and the full reinstatement of relevant public powers, as the basis for national reconciliation and economic recovery.

We also support EU efforts, including through the International Contact Group and Special Adviser Enrique Iglesias. I welcome the statement issued after the ICG meeting of 23 September, which reaffirms the Group's commitment to a negotiated transition leading to credible, transparent and internationally monitored presidential elections, the reinstitution of public powers and a package of guarantees enabling political coexistence. These are essential elements to overcoming the crisis and to achieving national reconciliation and economic recovery.

I welcome the continued outreach efforts of the ICG and SA Iglesias to regional and international actors regarding this crisis. The ICG met with the Lima Group in the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York on 26 September, where both groups reiterated their commitment to a peaceful transition and expressed their concern at the humanitarian crisis as well as the serious human rights violations in the country.

Coordination with the Lima Group was evident at the most recent session of the Human Rights Council in September 2019. Ireland, along with several of our EU partners, co-sponsored the resolution presented by the Lima Group, which highlighted our shared concern at the reported grave human rights abuses in Venezuela and called for the establishment of a fact-finding mission to investigate these abuses. I have voiced on several occasions my deep concern regarding the serious human rights violations detailed in the report of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet that was published earlier this year, and I also had an opportunity to discuss the siutation with the High Commissioner in Dublin last week.

I will continue to follow the situation in Venezuela closely and will engage on this issue at the highest levels with my EU colleagues, including at the upcoming Foreign Affairs Council meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels on 14 October.

Question No. 22 answered with Question No. 19.