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UN announces new aid plans for Venezuela to relieve impact of US sanctions

MILLIONS of Venezuelans will be helped by a newly announced United Nations humanitarian fund set up to prevent a punishing US blockade from inflicting mass starvation.

The fund, which was launched yesterday, aims to raise $223 million (£184m), which could bring much-needed aid to 2.6m people “in their darkest hour.”

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) secretary-general Jan Egeland said: “Now is the time to show solidarity with the people of Venezuela and offer assistance in their darkest hour. If properly implemented, this plan can be a significant breakthrough in the work to assist millions affected by the crisis.”

Venezuela faces an ongoing Washington-backed coup attempt, led by hapless president of the defunct National Assembly Juan Guaido.

His numerous attempts to start an armed insurrection have flopped, with the bulk of Venezuela’s people and armed forces remaining loyal to the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.

The US has now switched its focus to escalating sanctions. President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week which imposed a near-total blockade on Venezuela.

Mr Egeland said the fund could be a “significant breakthrough in the work to assist the millions of people affected by the crisis.

“International donor countries must now step up and provide the necessary funding for life-saving relief without tying their support to any political agenda.”

He added: “The situation in Venezuela is like a vice that is tightened and tightened, leaving people in all layers of the society with fewer and fewer options.”

Mr Maduro said on Wednesday that he had uncovered a plot to kill him led by former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe.

He said Mr Uribe had planned “to enter Venezuela [with] 32 mercenaries to try to assassinate me and other leaders of the revolution.”

Last week, seven Colombian paramilitaries were arrested near the border with an arsenal of weapons and communication devices.

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