US pledges $6 million in new aid for Venezuelan migrants

CUCUTA, Colombia (AP) — Standing in the middle of a busy border bridge filled with thousands of Venezuelans lugging babies and suitcases, Mark Green said one element stood out in contrast to every other migration crisis he has witnessed.

"This is the first one I've been to which is happening in real time," said Green, chief of the U.S. Agency for International Development, noting that he usually visits countries with established refugee camps.

"This is a real time catastrophe," he said.

Green traveled to the Colombian border city of Cucuta where tens of thousands of Venezuelans enter each day in search of food, medicine and increasingly, a new life, to announce the U.S. would be donating an additional $6 million to help the nation stem the crisis.

In total, the U.S. has now provided nearly $56 million to humanitarian groups and Latin American nations since the start of 2017. More than half of that aid has gone to Colombia, which has received the biggest influx of Venezuelans fleeing their country's economic and humanitarian catastrophe.

The U.S. aid to Colombia has focused largely on helping provide food and health services and is being funneled through organizations like the U.N. World Food Program and the international Red Cross.

The U.N. initiative kicked off earlier this year with a program to provide vouchers to Venezuelans but quickly derailed. Some Colombians protested outside, angry that Venezuelans were being given a free handout.

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