US aid lands in Colombia to deliver supplies to Venezuela

Indo Asian News Service

Bogota, Feb 17 (IANS) A second wave of US aid landed at the Colombian-Venezuelan border in an effort to deliver supplies to Caracas amid the country's ongoing humanitarian crisis.

The US Air Force C-17 cargo planes left Homestead Air Reserve Base in Miami and landed in Cucuta, Colombia, on Saturday, according to a statement from the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

The relief supplies delivered included hygiene kits that can help about 25,000 people and nutrition products that USAID said, can feed about 3,500 children, reports CNN.

The first wave of aid arrived on February 8 and included locally purchased food kits, hygiene kits, medical supplies, ready-to-use supplementary foods and high-energy biscuits, USAID said.

Venezuela's self-declared interim president, Juan Guaido, urged the hundreds of thousands of registered volunteers Saturday to help get aid into the country.

Speaking at a rally in Caracas on Saturday, Guaido said the "end of poverty will come, the humanitarian emergency will cease," urging that the aid be let in and "humanitarian corridors open".

Guaido said in a tweet later on Saturday that at least 600,000 had registered as volunteers but there was no official confirmation on the number.

The US-backed interim leader has also repeated his call directly to the armed forces to support his efforts of getting the aid in.

Saturday's aid delivery comes a week after Guaido and Venezuela's National Assembly requested humanitarian assistance, said CNN.

The Venezuelan government, led by embattled President Nicolas Maduro, last week blocked a bridge connecting Venezuela to Colombia, effectively cutting off the humanitarian aid called for by Venezuela's opposition via that route.

Guaido identified two other collection points: the Brazil-Venezuela border and an as-yet unidentified Caribbean island.

Maduro has rejected the international aid, saying: "We are not beggars."

Guaido declared himself acting president on January 23, but Maduro -- who was inaugurated for a second term that the US, dozens of other countries and the Venezuelan opposition have decried as illegitimate -- has neither stepped down nor heeded calls to hold another election.

--IANS

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