Venezuela crisis leaves quarter of population in urgent need UN report says as Mike Pence calls for support for Juan Guaido – Live updates – CBS News


United Nations — Vice President Mike Pence called on the United Nations to yank the credentials of Nicolas Maduro’s representative, and “seat the representative of the free Venezuelan government in this body without delay.”

“The time has come for the United Nations to recognize interim President Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela and seat his representative in this body.”

He addressed the current Venezuelan ambassador to the U.N., Samuel Moncada, who was looking at his phone while Pence was speaking. “With all due respect, Mr. Ambassador, you shouldn’t be here,” he said. “You should return to Venezuela and tell Nicolas Maduro that his time is up. It’s time for him to go.” Moncada looked up from his phone and shook his head at him and mumbled something unintelligible.

Afterward, the vice president told reporters that the U.S. is working on introducing a resolution to revoke Moncada’s credentials. When asked what made him think the U.S. had the support to do this, Pence said he thinks “momentum is on the side of freedom.” 

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He was also asked whether the Trump administration has a “red line” on Russia’s involvement in the Western hemisphere and Venezuela, and he said that Russia and Iran should not be involved in the region. “They should step aside,” he said. Another reporter pointed out that the U.S. currently does not have a U.N. ambassador.

The political crisis engulfing Venezuela has left almost a quarter of the once-wealthy South American nation’s population in dire need of help, a new United Nations report says. The internal report, obtained by CBS News, says 7 million Venezuelans “or about 24 percent of the total population currently living in the country, are estimated to have urgent priority needs for assistance and protection.”

A whopping 94 percent of Venezuelans are living in poverty, according to the report, dubbed an “overview of priority humanitarian needs” in the country.

The report, which has been presented to President Nicolas Maduro and was sent to U.N. diplomats, is expected to be referenced at a gathering Wednesday of the U.N. Security Council, at which U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to speak. 

Pence has weighed in previously on Venezuela, mounting the full pressure of the Trump administration on Maduro’s embattled regime. The White House was one of the first foreign governments to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, and has consistently called on Maduro to step down.

“Heading to NYC tomorrow to address the @UN Security Council. It’s time for ALL NATIONS to stand with President @Jguaido and the free government of Venezuela.” Pence said in a tweet

Venezuelans desperate amid blackout, supply shortage

Underscoring the importance of the event, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres attended the meeting. His Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) chief, Under Secretary General Mark Lowcock, briefed the 15-nation Council.    

Food, medicine, education and safety

The report says Venezuela, once known for its oil wealth, now has soaring malnutrition rates, medicines in short supply, and thousands of children without enough food. U.N. Refugee High Commissioner Filippo Grande told the Council on Tuesday that 3.4 million Venezuelans have fled their country.

“The suffering of people in the country is dramatic,” Germany’s Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, the current President of the Security Council, told reporters on Tuesday.

“The decrease in regular access to medicines has increased the risk of morbidity and mortality from non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer, as well as communicable diseases including HIV/AIDS,” the report concludes.

It cites a U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) study that found 48 percent of all Venezuelan school children are “at risk” of dropping out amid irregular attendance.

Venezuela has historically imported up to 75 percent of its food, but between 2012 and 2016 food imports decreased by 66 percent and “access to drinking water presents major challenges for crisis-affected people in Venezuela.”

“The increase in the incidence of violence, insecurity and human rights violations has had a serious impact” on the country, the report says, noting that the most urgent problems were caused by the closure of borders with Brazil and Colombia by the Venezuelan government.

No way out?

The Security Council has been unable to agree a way out of the crisis, with world powers — most notably Russia — backing the Maduro regime. 

“We don’t think it makes much sense to have another polarized discussion about the political situation, we have to focus on the situation on the ground, on the humanitarian situation,” German Ambassador Heusgen said.

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