Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the UN Security Council Meeting on the humanitarian situation in Venezuela, 10 April 2019

Mr President, thank you for giving me the floor.

My delegation wishes to welcome the Secretary-General to the Council.

We also acknowledge the briefings provided by Mr Mark Lowcock, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr Eduardo Stein, the joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants as well as Dr Kathleen Page, Researcher at Johns Hopkins University.  We acknowledge the presence of Mr Mike Pence, the Vice-President of the United States of America.

Mr President,

The current situation in Venezuela requires a constructive and united approach by the Council in addressing the challenges facing the country.

The political situation and continued economic difficulties in Venezuela is a result of a myriad of factors, including conflicting geo-political dynamics. This necessitates the Council’s focus on the resulting humanitarian situation in Venezuela and its adverse effect on its people.

In this regard, I wish to reiterate South Africa’s position on three key areas:

Firstly, the provision of humanitarian assistance must be provided in accordance with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and in full compliance with the UNGA resolution 46/182. These principles have enabled the Council to act in other difficult situations in order to support people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. This should be the central approach of the Council in this matter.

Secondly, it is important that the effective and unhindered provision of humanitarian assistance takes place in coordination and cooperation with the Venezuelan government, acknowledging the fundamental principle of State sovereignty in the UN Charter. It is therefore necessary to acknowledge and work with established structures in Venezuela, so as not to create parallel structures that may also cause increased tensions.

Mr President, finally,

The provision of humanitarian assistance should be based on an adequate and accurate needs assessment of the situation in order to match these needs with the appropriate support, and steer away from the possibility of humanitarian intervention as a pretext for further increased tensions and possible military entanglements.

Mr President,

South Africa therefore urges all parties to respect the need for impartiality, neutrality and independence in the provision of humanitarian assistance to Venezuela.

We also call on the international community to support the channelling of humanitarian assistance through the UN and its implementing partners as well as through other recognised international organisations, such as the ICRC, in order to promote the much needed neutrality and impartiality for the provision of humanitarian assistance in Venezuela.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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