WASHINGTON – A U.S. Navy hospital ship will embark on an additional humanitarian mission to enable nations cope with an influx of Venezuelans fleeing a deep financial and political crisis, the Trump administration announced Tuesday.
The USNS Comfort will leave in June on a five-month mission to South America, Central America and the Caribbean to enable nations “overwhelmed” by the far more than three million Venezuelan refugees who have fled in current years, Vice-President Mike Pence stated.
“The increasing desperation in Venezuela has fueled a mass exodus, the likes of which we have under no circumstances noticed in the Western Hemisphere,” Pence stated in a speech on the Venezuelan crisis to at the Council of the Americas annual conference.
Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan stated that ahead of the USNS Comfort can be deployed from its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, a employees of physicians, nurses and other health-related employees have to be assembled.
The Comfort’s tour final fall offered health-related help in Colombia and quite a few other nations exactly where most of the Venezuelan refugees have settled to escape the crisis.
Pence and other Trump administration officials have warned that an additional two million men and women are anticipated to flee by the finish of the year if the crisis continues in the after-prosperous nation.
The Trump administration has employed growing diplomatic and financial measures on the government of President Nicolas Maduro in hopes of persuading him to step down.
The U.S. and far more than 50 other nations say Maduro’s re-election final year as fraudulent and that Juan Guaidó, the opposition head of the National Assembly, is the genuine president beneath the Venezuelan Constitution.
In his speech, Pence also stated the U.S. would extend sanctions to all 25 members of the Venezuelan Supreme Court if they continue to be a “political tool” of President Nicolas Maduro. The U.S. currently has sanctions on about 150 officials and firms in the nation.
The vice-president also stated the U.S. would quickly lift sanctions on Gen. Manuel Figuera, the head of the feared SEBIN intelligence agency, who broke ranks with the Maduro government for the duration of a failed uprising final week and has because disappeared.
Pence repeated the message that “all selections are on the table” as the administration weighs additional actions.
But an additional speaker at the conference, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., pointed out that Venezuela is twice the size of Iraq and it would be “extremely difficult” to effectively employ military force to oust Maduro.
“I’ve created it clear that military intervention in Venezuela should be off the table,” stated Engel, the chairman of the Home Foreign Affairs Committee.