NGOs vilify 'silence of UN agencies in Venezuela' over hunger

(Photo: REUTERS / Carlos Garcia Rawlins)Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends to a meeting with representatives of the opposition, the Roman Catholic Church and Union of South American Nations' (UNASUR) at Miraflores Palace in Caracas April 10, 2014. Maduro hosted Venezuelan opposition leaders on Thursday at the start of mediated talks intended to stem two months of political unrest that has killed dozens in the OPEC nation.

A Geneva-based non-governmental rights group has urged U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to respond to an appeal by 50 Venezuelan NGOs angry at an array of U.N. humanitarian agencies they  say are ignoring the hunger and health catastrophe taking place in Venezuela.

UN Watch on July 22 urged Ban to respond as they express indignation at the deferment to the regime of President Nicolas Maduro saying the UN agencies are ignoring the hunger and health catastrophe taking place in Venezuela.

"The UN says that it cares about social and economic rights, yet when it comes to Venezuela, UN agencies and officials have continuously helped the perpetrator instead of the victim," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

The coalition of NGOs pointed a finger at UN agencies such as PAHO, FAO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, and WHO.

It says these groups have adopted an unresponsive stance in the face of the compelling health and food deprivation affecting millions in Venezuela, apparently due to pressure from the Maduro regime.

"Not only was Venezuela re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council, and given a free pass there, but the Food and Agriculture Agency in Rome last year gave Venezuela an award for supposedly halving malnutrition. It's a sham," said Neuer.

"This is simply absurd and immoral, and a betrayal of the U.N.'s own values," said Neuer. "Venezuelan media used the false U.N. recognition as propaganda to legitimize a regime that is responsible for causing a desperate food situation for millions of their own people."

"Venezuela, with the support of Cuba and other allies, has used political clout to influence UN experts and agencies. As a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Venezuela backed U.N. experts who backed Chavez."

The group of NGOs includes: Cáritas Ciudad Bolívar, Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, Justicia y Paz Cáritas Los Teques, Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad de Los Andes, Padres Organizados de Venezuela, Sinergia, Asociaciòn Venezolana de Organizaciones de Sociedad Civil.

Neuer said, "Hilal Elver, the current expert on the right to food, has never visited Venezuela, issued any statement on hunger in Venezuela, or made even one tweet on the subject. It's shameful."

The signers said in their petition, "The UN agencies refrain from dialogue with Venezuelan society, without pressure or conditions by the State.

"This situation compromises their performance, according to the Action Plan 'Rights up Front,' which establishes their duty to prioritize, above the interests of states, the mandates and commitments on human rights and to provide accurate information regarding populations at risk or subjected to serious violations of human rights, to ensure coherent strategies for action on the ground, facilitating an early coordinated action and greater impact on the work of protecting the rights human and humanitarian law."

Copyright © 2015 Ecumenical News