The United Nations (UN) reported the temporary suspension of transfers corresponding to humanitarian aid funds in Venezuela due to the “lack of clarity” of the institutional and financial context. The decision was published in a statement dated Monday, January 18, signed by the resident and humanitarian coordinator of the United Nations System in Venezuela, Peter Grohmann.
In the official note, the UN argued: “Given the lack of clarity on the institutional financial framework regarding the use of the modality of Cash Transfer Programs within the activities of the Humanitarian Response Plan, we see the need to suspend cash transfers,” The UN is working with partners and the relevant authorities, without specifying names, to agree on a procedure to continue the modality.
The interruption comes just as the Nicolas Maduro regime has arrested humanitarian-aid NGO workers and frozen NGOs accounts, accusing individuals and organizations of terrorism, fraud, criminal concert, and money laundering.
The director of NGO Access to Justice, Ali Daniels, recalls the case of Azul Positivo, which has five of its members in prison, accused of alleged fraudulent handling of debit cards or similar instruments, association to commit crimes and capital legitimization.
The most affected are the people. There are dozens of organizations, like Azul Positivo, which transfer money to low-income people with funds from international cooperation agencies such as the UN, Daniel said.
“Nothing they are doing is a crime. Those who pay the price for this situation are the most defenseless,” said Daniels to El Pitazo. The activist added that the arrest of NGO workers and harassment of said organizations by the Maduro regime is a step backward in humanitarian aid. He does not know when the sending of funds to humanitarian NGOs will resume.
Venezuela is amid an acute institutional crisis, with two Presidents and two national legislatures. Sanctions on key Maduro-regime controlled institutions (the Central Bank and state oil company PDVSA) have made it impossible to receive some types of humanitarian aid. Similar sanctions on key individuals (Maduro and top collaborators) mean US banks cannot deal with them. Additionally, the UN began a process to replace
Peter Grohmann, a German national, has held the same position in the Kingdom of Bahrain, was director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Panama, and was UNDP’s deputy resident representative in El Salvador and Belize. In 2016, Grohmann was appointed by the UN to be the UN system’s resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative in Venezuela.
Human rights advocates in Venezuela indicate that Grohmann’s management has made little or no pronouncements about the humanitarian emergency in the country and has questioned reports detailing the country’s crisis by human rights NGOs.
The general coordinator of the Venezuelan Program for Education and Action on Human Rights (Provea), Rafael Uzcategui, indicated last year that one of the main criticisms by human rights defenders to the resident representative is that he has not been independent of the Maduro regime.