Caracas (AFP) – A second shipment of Red Cross humanitarian aid will arrive in Venezuela in around three weeks, the charity organization said on Wednesday, reiterating its plea for the issue not to be politicized.
“There’s a shipment coming by sea that we expect to be in the country on May 8,” said Hernan Bongioanni, the Red Cross commissioner for this mission.
He was speaking to the press as surgical equipment, analgesics and antibiotics were delivered to a hospital in Caracas.
The first aid shipment arrived by plane from Panama on Tuesday to the Maiquetia international airport that serves Venezuela’s capital.
Bongioanni said this delivery of surgical equipment would be used to treat 10,000 people in an initial phase of a project expected to benefit 650,000 Venezuelans.
Local Red Cross president Mario Villarroel reiterated his call on Venezuela’s leader Nicolas Maduro and his political challenger Juan Guaido not to use the aid issue in their power struggle.
“Every time there’s an attempt to politicize this aid it prejudices the work we’re doing,” said Villarroel.
Desperately needed humanitarian aid has taken center stage in the stand-off between Maduro and Guaido, the president of the National Assembly legislature.
Despite a highly-publicized campaign, Guaido, who launched a challenge to Maduro’s authority in January, has failed to force humanitarian aid stockpiled over the border in Colombia into the country.
The armed forces, which are loyal to Maduro, blockaded a bridge crossing to prevent the entry of aid, which Maduro claimed was a smokescreen to cover a US-led invasion.
That aid was mostly supplied by the United States, one of more than 50 countries to have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s interim leader after rejecting Maduro’s widely criticized re-election last year.
The Red Cross supplies have been allowed in following an agreement reached between the international organization and Maduro.
Venezuela has suffered more than four years of recession marked by shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine.
The United Nations says a quarter of its 30 million population is in urgent need of aid.