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Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press conference following the International solidarity conference on the Venezuelan refugee and migrant crisis

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First of all, let me say that I was really honoured to host together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration this two-day conference to mobilise global solidarity for Venezuelan refugees and migrants. We welcomed 120 delegations - obviously from European Union Member States and Latin American countries, countries that are directly suffering the impact of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, but also international financial institutions, civil society, NGOs, the private sector and countries from all around the world, from the far East of Asia to the Gulf countries - to first of all clearly say that the Venezuelan crisis and its humanitarian impact need to go back on top of the international agenda. I believe that the conference has been a success in this respect.

We count obviously also on you to report about the mobilisation that the global community has managed to put in place so far and it is committed to do so in the future, but also to send a strong message of solidarity to Venezuelans who are suffering a crisis that is at the same time political, economic, social and humanitarian and to the host communities in the neighbouring countries - and not only in the neighboring countries, but in all Latin America - that are hosting impressive numbers of refugees and migrants as a result of this crisis.

We have clearly said that this was not a pledging conference. And yet, there were commitments made during these two days that are good news. Around 120 million euros were announced today as additional contributions from individual delegations. And that comes on top of the additional 30 million euros that European Union institutions are mobilising in these days. The European Union and the Member States have mobilised 320 million euros so far and are ready to do more.

We have stressed that we do not only welcome and admire the hospitality, the open arms and open borders policy of the Latin American countries towards Venezuelan refugees and migrants, but also that we commit to supporting this policy. And this is more important than anything else, because we know, especially we Europeans know, how difficult it is. And we know that praising them is not enough. What is needed is concrete support. And this is why the conference today, I think, has been so important. We also expressed a strong support for the regional coordination mechanisms that Latin American countries have managed to put in place in close coordination, obviously, with the UN agencies.

And in a couple of weeks’ time there will be another meeting of the Quito Process in Bogota that we support collectively very much. And we have also decided to establish a form of support group, a group of friends of the Quito Process, to mobilise international support to the regional response to this crisis.

I believe that in terms of political, financial, and technical support, this has been an important step to be continued to be followed up, obviously knowing that the real solution to this refugees and migrants crisis will be the political solution that will allow Venezuela to regain a peaceful and democratic life. And you know that the European Union is working closely together with our partners in the region to try to achieve that result.

But in the meantime, we cannot avoid giving an urgent response to the humanitarian situation that Venezuelans and the host communities are facing. And so this double track today, I think, has been successfully put in place.

Let me finish by thanking from the bottom of my heart and personally both Filippo Grandi [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] the Antonio Vitorino [Director General of the International Organisation for Migration]. This conference has been possible thanks to the excellent cooperation between the three of us and our teams. And to me, this is the best example of how the European Union and the UN system managed to work together with effective results. And I want to really thank them for all the work - difficult work - that they are doing together with their respective agencies and organisations. So thank you very much.

Questions and Answers:

Q1 - ¿Cómo consideran sostenible en el tiempo la ayuda o el apoyo internacional a estos países visto sobre todo que la situación política dentro del país en Venezuela no tiene visos de mejorar o de cambiar en los próximos años?

First of all, it is clear - for the European Union, but not only for us - that the real solution will come in the moment when Venezuela will find democracy and peace, and we would continue to work in that direction. The focus we are putting on the need to mobilise humanitarian assistance and pledges does not substitute this at all. On the contrary, it complements with a sense of urgency our work to find a political solution to solve the Venezuelan political crisis.

Having said that, I think the European Union's experience is such that we should understand by now - and we can share this with others in the world - that investing in the needs of humanitarian crises and in particular refugee crises and migrant crises is the best investment we can do, also from an economic point of view. Obviously, it is a moral duty, because it is people who are suffering. It is children, it is women, it is men who have changed completely and not voluntarily their life. But it is not only a moral duty, it is also an investment in economic terms. Because if we do not mobilise resources today to face the humanitarian needs of Venezuelans that are moving, we might face even more costly consequences from both humanitarian and economic point of view in one year, two years, five years from now.

The destabilising effect that these waves could have in the continent - it is not only a region, it is a continent - might be massive in political and security terms. We have all praised the open arms and open borders policies of the Latin American countries. We have mobilised resources and we have asked others to mobilise resources to support concretely these efforts. But we know very well that if the resources are not mobilised today, the social, economic, political situation in each of the host communities and each of the host countries might suffer enormously in terms of stability.

I believe there is no donors' fatigue that is rational enough to prevent us from mobilising the resources that are needed. It is the best investment we can do. We Europeans know very well if we had invested a little bit to support the Syrian refugee crisis or other migrant crises early in the process, we would have not only saved lives, but also saved money. I think we know by experience that we have to overcome any donors’ fatigue, not only for the sake of the people that are involved, but also for the sake of stability, peace and security in an entire continent.

Latin America is a continent that is important for Europe. It is far away geographically, but it is so close socially and culturally. We have family ties; we have economic ties; some of us speak and understand the same languages. It is it is a continent that is close to us. So I believe there is an interest - not only a duty - for the global community to mobilise this funding. I am hopeful that this conference will help start an engine of international solidarity that can also allow the biggest donors like the European Union not to be alone in making this effort. And I was pleased today to see that countries that are even further away from the region, like in far East Asia, were not only present, but also announced some additional support.

Q2 - Me gustaría profundizar en algo que ha comentado. Quería saber hasta qué punto están preocupados por la posibilidad de que esta crisis desestabilice los países vecinos que están acogiendo a los migrantes, sobre todo porque hay mucha presión sobre los recursos sociales, y también quería saber si les preocupa el hecho que algunos países estén empezando a poner problemas en las fronteras, a exigir más requisitos a los migrantes, y si creen que podrían llegar a cerrarse estas fronteras. ¿Cuánto les preocupa esto?

I think that in particular, as Europeans, we really need to pay respect to and commend not only the institutions, but also the societies and the local communities of the countries in Latin America, not only the neighboring ones. As Filippo [Grandi] mentioned, some of the Ministers present in the room from Latin America reminded us that they are maybe 4.000 or 8.000 kilometers away from Caracas. They have been reacting so far - society, institutions, local communities, and social services of these countries - in a remarkable manner. This should not be given for granted, and this is why we share a sense of urgency in the need to support them before this implies social tensions, major economic or social problems in the hosting countries.

We know from experience. And it has been difficult for Europeans, so imagine hot it is for Latin Americans. They have their own issues to deal with. This is why I think it is extremely wise and it is extremely urgent to mobilise international support for these countries and for the Venezuelans that are moving in these countries before this becomes a destabilising factor. It is not yet the case. Obviously, the worry is there. But this worry should not just make us worry. This worry should make us act and mobilise these resources that are - and I repeat it once again - the smartest investment in peace, security and stability we can make in the region. One euro to support this effort today is worth 100 euros tomorrow.

The timing - but here you have more experience than me - of the mobilisation of the global financial support to the humanitarian crisis is not an irrelevant factor. The earlier we mobilise funds, the better it is for preventing dynamics from happening especially in the neighboring countries and obviously on the lives of Venezuelans, which is what concerns us the most.

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