UN envoy: International aid for Venezuelans falls short

FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2018 file photo, Venezuelan migrants line up for free bread and coffee, donated by a Colombian family from their car, at a gas station in Pamplona, Colombia. A United Nations special envoy warned on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, that the international community is falling short in helping nations like Colombia respond to the massive exodus of Venezuelans. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A United Nations special envoy warned Tuesday that the international response to the massive exodus of Venezuelans is falling far short of what countries like Colombia need to respond to the crisis.

Eduardo Stein said Tuesday that Colombia has received less than a third of the international financing required for it to handle the arrival of more than 1.4 million Venezuelans fleeing their nation's tumult.

"This is a voice of alarm before a situation that has totally surpassed the nation's capacities," he said in a visit to Colombia's capital. "It must move those nations that have historically been able to assist internationally."

The U.N. has called on donors to contribute $315 million to Colombia as it responds to the health, education and other needs of thousands of Venezuelans who continue to arrive daily to the neighboring Andean nation.

To date, foreign minister Carlos Holmes said the nation has received about $96 million, which is a little over 30% of what's necessary. That translates to about $68 per Venezuelan migrant in Colombia, considerably below what foreign governments and organizations have provided to nations responding to other mass displacements.

A total of more than $500 per migrant, for example, has been provided to help nations receiving those fleeing Syria, Holmes noted.

"Colombia won't abandon the migrant population," he said. "At the same time it will persist in the urgent call for international cooperation."

More than four million Venezuelans have fled their nation in recent years, according to the United Nations, as a political standoff and economic crisis far worse than the U.S. Great Depression compels many to leave.

Colombia has received more Venezuelan migrants than any other nation and their numbers continue to rise. Holmes said that in the last three months alone, more than 111,000 Venezuelans have arrived in Colombia.

"Unfortunately, far from diminishing, the flow (of migrants) is rising," Stein said.

President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó have been in a power struggle since earlier this year. Both sides have been participating in Norway-sponsored talks aimed at peacefully resolving the crisis.

But Maduro recently opted not to send envoys to another round of discussions in response to tough new U.S. sanctions against his government.