NGOs urge government and opposition to activate social fund agreed in Mexico | via: Diario TalCual
Luisa Quintero | Venezuela | July 25, 2023
Unofficial translation made by HumVenezuela…
“We need answers here so that people do not continue to leave,” said Janeth Márquez, director of Caritas. It is estimated that the 3 billion dollars for the social fund created at the negotiating table in Mexico, which will be managed by the United Nations, will be used for projects for the recovery of the electricity system, public hospital network and schools, as well as the activation of the school feeding plan.
A group of civil society organizations urged this Tuesday 25 the creation of the social protection fund for the Venezuelan people, agreed at the negotiation table between the government of Nicolás Maduro and the opposition Unitary Platform in November 2022.
Mercedes de Freitas, executive director of Transparencia Venezuela, recalled in the virtual forum “Venezuelans cannot wait any longer” that 130 organizations signed a letter addressed to Jorge Rodríguez and Gerardo Blyde, chief negotiators of Mexico, to demand them to do what is necessary to implement this social fund.
It is estimated that the 3 billion dollars for the fund, which will be managed by the United Nations, will be used for projects for the recovery of the electric system, public hospital network and schools, as well as the activation of the school feeding plan. The United States has put obstacles for the release of the money in some accounts, as denounced by the government.
The executive director of Transparencia pointed out that, among the solutions offered by the NGOs, is the use of an account of 147 million dollars in the name of the Central Bank of Venezuela ad hoc, in the Federal Reserve of the United States, which could be totally or partially directed to open this fund.
Last week, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) published a report detailing that, during the first semester of 2023, barely 14% of the funds required for humanitarian assistance to the population have been received, of which 720 million dollars are required.
Feliciano Reyna, president of Acción Solidaria, stated during his speech that it is urgent to take some actions to provide relief to the population. “The path of humanitarian action must be isolated from the political issue. Another issue is corruption, it is very serious that it remains invisible and without sanctions. Interlocution must take place with the scrutiny of international mechanisms and the national civil society”.
Reyna mentioned that, in this case, political negotiation between the parties is necessary. He highlighted as positive the multilateral interlocution and a tripartite dialogue, which is managed between the Maduro administration, the International Labor Organization and the Venezuelan unions and trade unions.
For her part, public nutrition and food security expert Susana Raffalli said that there has been a slight improvement in the nutritional crisis if compared to 2016 or 2017, “which does not mean that at this level we have it is not consistent with a complex humanitarian emergency.”
He detailed that there are currently 4.8 million people in a situation of moderate and severe food insecurity within the country, at least eight million are at risk of falling into this situation, and there is also between 9% and 12% of acute malnutrition in children.
“I have a lot of faith in the funds in terms of concrete welfare results. This fund, managed under a coordination table, ends up generating confidence,” said Raffalli, who warned that this mechanism cannot replace the international aid obtained by the agencies.
“A governance system that is not so costly should be created, with a regulatory body, an accounting body and an executive with an advisory board,” she recommended.
In terms of priorities, the expert said, it is necessary to insist on having an insured childhood, which includes immunizations, food and services, which should also include women, pregnant women, the elderly and vulnerable populations.
Janeth Márquez, director of Caritas Venezuela, explained that, unfortunately, people still need others to survive due to the level of the crisis, the deterioration of the population’s capacities and the psychological breakdown due to the effects of the humanitarian emergency. “but today we need the financing to be directly in the country”.
“We need answers to be given here so that people do not continue to leave,” said Márquez. In spite of the distrust in the political actors, she pointed out, it is necessary “to have a social round table for Venezuela that allows to have several strategies, among them the humanitarian strategy plan of OCHA”.
Caritas agrees with the fund, indicated its director, “with the participation of the organized civil society, so that with transparent management we can respond to these needs. We believe that it is possible, we are in a good moment”.