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Haley Calls for UN to Intervene in Venezuela 'Humanitarian Crisis'

By VOA News May 17, 2017

United States Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is calling on the international organization to address what she called a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

The U.N. Security Council is meeting Wednesday afternoon at Haley's request to discuss an international effort aimed at combating further deterioration in Venezuela's economic and political situation.

"In Venezuela, we are on the verge of humanitarian crisis," Haley said in a statement ahead of the meeting. "Peaceful protesters have been injured, arrested and even killed by their own government. Medicine is unavailable, hospitals lack supplies, and it's become difficult to find food."

Since early April, Venezuela has been rocked by near-daily anti-government street demonstrations aimed at removing President Nicolas Maduro from power. At least 42 people have been killed during the unrest.

The closed-door meeting Wednesday will mark the first time the Security Council has discussed the crisis in Venezuela.

Meeting on human rights

Meanwhile, Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles said he would meet Friday with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.

Wednesday's UN debate coincides with Maduro's renewal, for the seventh time, of a state of emergency. That has allowed him to govern by decree, unhampered by the South American country's opposition-controlled National Assembly.

Maduro claims his political enemies are seeking international support to overthrow him. He also maintains they're stirring unrest that has boiled over into a second month of often-violent street protests.

Opposition activists accuse the socialist president of operating as a dictator, using his influence over state institutions to stay in power. They have demanded long-delayed elections, the release of political prisoners and delivery of humanitarian aid.

The Organization of American States' foreign ministers agreed Monday to meet on May 31 to discuss Venezuela, whose economy has constricted for several years to a point of chronic and severe shortages of food, medicine and other basic goods.

Death toll reaches 42

Three more people were shot dead Tuesday in demonstrations in different parts of the country, bringing the death toll to at least 42.

Diego Arellano, 31, was shot in the chest in San Antonio de los Altos, a Caracas suburb, according to prosecutors. Diego Hernandez, 33, was fatally shot at a demonstration in Táchira state, bordering Colombia, and a regional police officer has been detained. An unnamed 17-year-old boy died after being shot in the head in the western state of Barinas, prosecutors said.

Despite the deaths, and the fact that hundreds of opposition members have been wounded or detained, their leaders say street actions will not cease. Leaders have called for a vigil Wednesday night in Venezuela's main thoroughfares.



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