BOGOTÁ – The United States will send a US Navy hospital ship to Colombia to help treat some of the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the violence in Venezuela.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on Friday that he was travelling with him to Washington from Bogotá, Colombia, that he would probably send the USNS Comfort based in Norfolk, Virginia.
Mattis said officials with whom he spoke in Bogota were “enthusiastic” about the ship’s announced deployment, which he said was “absolutely a humanitarian mission.”
“We are not sending soldiers, we are sending doctors,” Mattis said, without giving details of when the ship would sail.
Hospital ships are usually deployed to provide life-saving treatment and medical care and to relieve pressure on national health systems.
The US Secretary of Defense He said that during Friday’s talks with his defence counterpart and recently inaugurated Colombian president Ivan Duque, he received specific information about the best place to deploy the ship.
“They (the Colombian leaders) not only agreed in principle but gave details of how we could better design the cruise across the region,” said Mattis.
Chile, Argentina and Brazil – the other stops on their tour of South America – also provided information for the deployment of the US hospital ship, according to Mattis.
Aware of Venezuelan sensibilities, Mattis stressed that the US hospital ship it would not enter the territorial waters of Venezuela.
Jason Marczak, director of the Adrienne Arsht Center for Latin America at the Atlantic Council, told VOA that the situation in Venezuela has led to a global migration crisis “that is on track to be parallel or exceed the numbers that have left the Middle East.” East. ”
“If those migration numbers are not managed in an orderly and effective way, that has the potential to create greater instability in the countries to which the migrants go,” said Marczak.
Until June, an estimated 2.3 million people had fled Venezuela, mainly to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, according to the United Nations. US officials They reported at that time that more than half of those who fled “suffered from malnutrition.”
The US Navy has another hospital ship, the USNS Mercy, based in San Diego, California.
The USNS Comfort and the USNS Mercy are usually deployed for humanitarian missions with a diverse group of doctors on board from various countries.
Source: VOA Noticias