This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, D-NJ, wrote Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission at the European Union, commending her for convening a solidarity conference on the Venezuelan migrant crisis and underscoring the need for additional support for Venezuelan migrants throughout the region. Rubio leads the U.S. Senate Western Hemisphere Subcommittee and Sires chairs the U.S. House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee.
Joining Rubio and Sires in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and John Cornyn, R-Tex., and U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Debbie Murcasel-Powell, D-Fla., Donna Shalala, D-Fla., Francis Rooney, R-Fla., Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Norma Torres, D-Calif., and Michael McCaul, R-Tex.
The full text of the letter is below:
Dear High Representative Mogherini,
We write to express our appreciation for your leadership in convening the upcoming International Solidarity Conference on the Venezuelan Refugee and Migrant Crisis, scheduled for October 28th and 29th in Brussels. We strongly support this initiative and sincerely hope it will help address the devastating humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, which has forced over 4.4 million Venezuelans to leave their country, according to figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
As you know, the United States has provided $644 million in humanitarian aid and development assistance for the Venezuela crisis since 2017, including approximately three-fourths of all global contributions to the UNHCR’s Regional Refugee and Migrant Response platform thus far. The United States government remains deeply committed to supporting a democratic transition in Venezuela and minimizing the suffering of the Venezuelan people, who are living through a humanitarian catastrophe caused by the Maduro regime.
There is bipartisan agreement in Congress that the United States should work closely with our allies to address the Venezuela crisis. We have heard repeatedly from UNHCR officials and stakeholders that other donors need to increase their financial support in order to secure the remaining $362 million of the $738 million the UNHCR initially requested.
Our allies in Europe are playing a key role in responding to the Venezuela crisis and we particularly appreciate the efforts the European Commission has made thus far, including its $17 million contribution to the UNHCR platform. The government of Spain has also made considerable contributions and has received nearly 60,000 Venezuelan asylum-seekers. The response from the UNHCR and international non-governmental organizations has been laudable.
At the same time, we are deeply concerned about the sustainability of the humanitarian response, the longer this crisis drags on. The Colombian government and the Colombian people have shown tremendous generosity, even as the number of Venezuelans in Colombia could soon reach 1.5 million. But hospitals and schools in Colombia are already struggling to handle the volume of migrant flows from Venezuela and we worry that the scale of the crisis could soon overwhelm public resources in the country.
We recognize and appreciate your continued commitment to addressing the Venezuela crisis. Historically, our allies in Europe have played a leading role in responding to humanitarian crises throughout the world. We hope the upcoming meeting serves to further deepen cooperation between the United States and the European Union in response to the crisis in Venezuela and ultimately enables additional humanitarian support to reach the Venezuelan people.
Thank you for your continued attention to this urgent matter.