The Americas

UN rights chief airs worry about food shortages in Venezuela

  • Opposition members chant, "Recall" during a protest asking for a referendum against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, outside the National Electoral Council, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. The opposition is pushing for a recall referendum to cut short Maduro's term. They accuse elections officials of dragging their feet to delay the process. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

    Opposition members chant, "Recall" during a protest asking for a referendum against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, outside the National Electoral Council, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. The opposition is pushing for a recall referendum to cut short Maduro's term. They accuse elections officials of dragging their feet to delay the process. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)  (The Associated Press)

  • Bolivarian National Police officers form a cordon outside the National Electoral Council, as opposition members hold a protest asking for a referendum against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. The opposition is pushing for a recall referendum to cut short Maduro's term. They accuse elections officials of dragging their feet to delay the process. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

    Bolivarian National Police officers form a cordon outside the National Electoral Council, as opposition members hold a protest asking for a referendum against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 19, 2016. The opposition is pushing for a recall referendum to cut short Maduro's term. They accuse elections officials of dragging their feet to delay the process. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)  (The Associated Press)

The U.N. human rights office is expressing concern about deteriorating human rights, growing violence and "severe shortages" of food, medicine and basic goods in Venezuela.

The office of human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein points to reports of rising protests demanding access to food, the arrest of hundreds of demonstrators and excessive use of force against protesters in recent weeks.

The Geneva-based office on Tuesday urged Venezuelan authorities to ensure the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and "to consider accepting humanitarian aid" to ensure food and medicine supplies are distributed.

Venezuela's government opened its long-closed border with Colombia over the weekend, prompting more than 100,000 Venezuelans to cross to buy as many basic goods as possible amid an economic crisis and 700-percent inflation in Venezuela.