UNITED NATIONS – The Latest on Venezuela's political and humanitarian crisis (all times local):
U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock says Venezuela's humanitarian problem has worsened and "the scale of need is significant and growing" — with 7 million people representing 25 percent of the population needing humanitarian aid.
Lowcock told a Security Council meeting called by the United States on Wednesday that the U.N. is working to expand humanitarian aid, but that much more is needed.
He said there's "a need to separate political and humanitarian objectives" and urged the council's support "to safeguard the neutral and impartial nature of humanitarian action."
Lowcock also urged the council to press for sustained and regular access to people in need, and to fund the expansion of humanitarian programs.
He said Venezuela's "severe and continuing economic contraction" means the availability and affordability of food has fallen and malnutrition has increased, especially in areas with the highest poverty rates.
Human Rights Watch and public health researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine are urging the United Nations to declare the situation in Venezuela "a complex humanitarian emergency that poses a serious risk to the region."
They appealed to the Security Council ahead of its meeting Wednesday on Venezuela's humanitarian crisis to ask Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make a declaration because their research shows severe medicine and food shortages in Venezuela, and disease spreading across its borders.
Dr. Kathleen Page of Johns Hopkins says Guterres "should ring the alarm bell and demonstrate leadership by ensuring that the U.N.'s vast resources can be mobilized for the Venezuelan people in a way that is neutral, independent, and impartial."