EU announces 35mn euro aid package for Venezuela crisis

Venezuelan migrants get food from volunteers upon their arrival at a bus terminal in the north of Lima, Peru; the EU has announced a 35 million euro aid package for Venezuelans both inside the country and in neighbouring countries

The EU announced a 35 million euro ($41mn) aid package on Friday to counter the effect of Venezuela's economic crisis, which has sparked one of the biggest exoduses in Latin American history.

"I can announce today that the European Union just adopted a package of humanitarian aid of 35 million euros to support Venezuelans both inside Venezuela but also in the neighbouring countries and the host communities," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Vienna.

Mogherini said the money would go to activities "focusing in particular on nutrition, water, health and the support to the most vulnerable people".

Venezuela's economy has collapsed into chaos under President Nicolas Maduro since 2013, with falling oil prices leading to chronic shortages of food and medicine and hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the country.

"We're extremely worried for the humanitarian situation in the country but also the effect on the neighbouring countries that are receiving massive waves of Venezuelans in their territory," Mogherini said.

Some 1.6 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015 as four years of recession and hyperinflation the International Monetary Fund predicts will reach one million percent this year have left large swathes of the population in poverty.

Maduro has systematically sidelined the opposition as he tightens his grip over Venezuela, with the political turmoil worsening the country's ability to deal with its economic collapse.

"We decided to step up our diplomatic engagement together with the countries in the region" to encourage fresh dialogue, Mogherini added on Friday.

Earlier this year the EU condemned "irregularities" in Maduro's re-election, citing "major obstacles" to the participation of the opposition.

In June Venezuela's vice-president and 10 other officials were hit by EU sanctions over the conduct of the election as well as other human rights abuses, prompting Venezuela to accuse the EU of "aggression and meddling".