CSIS Collaborates in Argentine-Colombian Public-Private Humanitarian Initiative to Address Urgent Medical Needs of Venezuelan Refugees in Colombia
July 3, 2018
WASHINGTON, July 3, 2018 - The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Americas Program’s report on the humanitarian consequences of Venezuela’s ongoing political and economic crisis has contributed concretely to efforts to address the issue of Venezuelan refugees fleeing the country. In collaboration with CSIS and other institutions, the Argentine and Colombian governments launched a public-private humanitarian initiative on June 25 to address the urgent medical needs of Venezuelan refugees in Colombia. A full mobile medical unit staffed by a rotating team of ten Argentine doctors and medical professionals is now operating in Cucuta at the border crossing where tens-of-thousands of Venezuelan refugees enter Colombia each day. This new initiative will provide critical care, treatment, and hope to help desperate Venezuelan refugees at least through the end of 2018. This innovative humanitarian effort was in part spurred by the CSIS report published after a CSIS research visit to the border region of Norte de Santander in February 2018 and by the active involvement of senior representatives of Instituto Universitario CEMIC and Asociación Latino-Americana de los Sistemas Privados de Salúd (ALAMI), both of which are members of the CSIS Argentina-U.S. Strategic Forum’s Health Working Group.
Presidents Macri and Santos (of Argentina and Colombia, respectively), with Foreign Ministers Faurie and Holguin, have spearheaded this initiative, after the two presidents first committed to undertake joint action at the Summit of the Americas in Lima in April. The Argentine Foreign Ministry’s Cascos Blancos (White Helmets) Commission, led by Ambassador Alejandro Daneri, and senior counterparts in the Colombian Foreign Ministry, are coordinating the organization and implementation of this urgent disaster response. In addition to CSIS, this initiative has involved the participation of several public and private organizations in Argentina, Colombia, and the United States since its inception, including CEMIC, ALAMI, B’nai B’rith Argentina, Fundación OSDE (Argentina), and GTTW (Give to the World, Washington DC), among others.
“This unprecedented political and humanitarian crisis has led almost two million Venezuelans to flee the country over the past two years,” said Mark Schneider, senior adviser of the Americas Program and Human Rights Initiative at CSIS. “The majority have crossed Venezuela’s border with Colombia, some transiting to other countries and approximately 800,000 staying in Colombia.”
“Serious political repression and economic collapse have combined to produce an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, including increasingly serious outbreaks of previously controlled infectious diseases and widespread hunger,” said Michael Matera, director and senior fellow of the Americas Program at CSIS. “The Maduro government has refused to acknowledge this unfolding humanitarian crisis and denies entry of urgently needed international assistance, including basic food and medical supplies, into Venezuela.”