Santiago (AFP) - The Lima Group made up of mostly Latin American countries called on the United Nations on Monday to "take action" to prevent an escalation of Venezuela's humanitarian crisis.
The group of 14 countries, which also includes Canada, exhorted UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the General Assembly and the Security Council to "take measures to avoid the progressive deterioration of peace and security, and to provide urgent humanitarian aid to the population of migrants coming from Venezuela."
Monday's meeting in Santiago came as Canada announced new sanctions against 41 members of Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro's government it holds "responsible for the deterioration of the situation" in the South American country.
The sanctions included a freeze on the individuals' assets and a ban on them conducting business with Canada, which previously sanctioned another 70 top government officials.
The Lima Group was created in 2017 to try to find a solution to Venezuela's economic meltdown.
More than four years of recession have left Venezuela in crisis, with the country's poorest residents suffering from shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine.
Despite this the South American country sits on the world's largest proven oil reserves.
Most Lima Group members refused to recognize Maduro's second term, which began on January 10, due to alleged fraud during his reelection last year.
The speaker of the National Assembly, Juan Guaido, launched a challenge to Maduro's authority in January and has since been backed by more than 50 countries, led by the United States, that recognize him as Venezuela's interim president.
Guaido wants to force Maduro, whom he deems to be illegitimate, from office and set up a transitional government ahead of new elections.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ended a whistlestop tour of South America on Sunday by visiting Colombia's border with Venezuela.
There he urged Maduro to reopen the border to allow in desperately-needed humanitarian aid that has been stockpiled in the Colombian town of Cucuta for two months now.
More than 2.7 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015, according to the UN, while the International Monetary Fund says the country's inflation will reach a staggering 10 million percent this year.
Venezuelans have been hit by repeated electricity blackouts in recent weeks while unemployment is over 44 percent.