NEW YORK, July 29 (UPI) — UNICEF has called on the Venezuelan government to prioritize the needs of children and teenagers amid a crippling economic crisis that has led to shortages of food and medicine.
“UNICEF calls for any dialogue, as well as any action of the state and of society, to have the best interest of the child and the absolute priority of children at its core,” UNICEF said in a statement following U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s call for dialogue between the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the political opposition and non-governmental organizations to create solutions.
Basic goods, food and medicines have been missing from store shelves throughout Venezuela, a country dependent on oil revenues to fuel its socialist system. Low oil prices have exacerbated an economic recession to the point the government has struggled to pay back debts. Venezuela this year has sold at least $1.7 billion in gold reserves to pay debts, which has decreased the South American country’s gold reserves to the lowest level on record.
The basic goods shortages have led some Venezuelans to cross the borders into Colombia and Guyana to purchase items.
“UNICEF shares the concerns demonstrated by national authorities of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and relevant social sectors about the consequences of the current circumstances for children and adolescents in the country,” UNICEF added. “UNICEF joins the U.N. Secretary General´s call for a dialogue between the sectors able to bring meaningful and practical solutions to society, and welcomes the integration of new actors to facilitate such a process.”