Report: 80 Percent of Venezuelans Short of Food

Hunger in Venezuela has worsened, non-governmental organizations and the Catholic Church have held food aid days to help people and children living on the streets or in extreme poverty in Caracas, Venezuela on 30 November 2017. (Photo by Roman Camacho/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Roman Camacho/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Around 80 percent of Venezuelans are now short of food, according to the new data compiled by NGO Human Rights Watch on Tuesday.

Following a trip to the Venezuelan border with Brazil by a team of health experts from John Hopkins University, researchers found that malnutrition continues to rise aggressively, with 80 percent of households unable to access enough food and rates of malnutrition among five years now over the World Health Organization’s crisis limit. In 2017, the average person lost around 11 kilos (24 pounds). In 2016, that number was 19 pounds; it is expected to have risen in 2018.

Combined with chronic malnutrition, the report also points to the scale of the collapse of the country’s health system, with practically every major health condition ranging from tuberculosis to malaria reaching crisis levels. For example, the number of malaria cases has risen from 36,000 in 2009 to 406,000 in 2017, while 87 percent of HIV patients now do not receive their necessary drugs.

Most of these conditions are going untreated, mainly due to a lack of necessary medical resources and trained specialists. Experts managed to collect such data by working with local authorities at the Venezuelan’s border with Brazil, where thousands of people are fleeing the country every day, many of whom are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. Around 2.3 million Venezuelans have left the country have left the country since 2015, mostly to neighboring Colombia and Brazil and other Latin American countries.

As well as the humanitarian disaster, the country is also seeing a complete collapse of most of its institutions, infrastructure, and public services. Nowadays, essential products and resources including water, electricity, transportation, gasoline, and toiletries are all in scarce supply, with regular blackouts across major towns and cities.

Such dire statistics add weight to the growing international concern at Venezuela’s economic and humanitarian crisis, caused in large part by the failed socialist revolution enacted under its late dictator Hugo Chávez and continued today under Nicolás Maduro. Many leading figures are calling for a humanitarian or military-based intervention to end the crisis, although all relevant powers have so far pulled back the idea.

The regime continues to deny the existence of a crisis. Maduro recently declared at the United Nations General Assembly that his country is “stronger than ever” and blamed any visible difficulties on the supposed “economic war” led by the United States.

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