US Naval Ship Offers Free Care for Venezuelan Migrants in Colombia

US Navy Ship free care migrantsUSNS Comfort, a U.S. Navy hospital ship deployed to Central and South America, has docked off the coast of Colombia to provide free medical and dental treatment for Venezuelan migrants.

The Comfort had provided assistance in Ecuador and Peru before moving on to Colombia as part of the 11-week “Enduring Promise” mission throughout the region.

The ship had been deployed to the region several times in the past to tend to vulnerable populations, but this particular mission is unique because its purpose is to relieve pressure on local medical systems following the surge of migrants from crisis-stricken Venezuela.

Over three million migrants have fled Venezuela according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), most to neighboring Latin American nations—and over a third to Colombia. Last week, a new refugee camp was unveiled as a previous camp overflowed with the exponential flow of migrants, and the number of those in need of treatment has put Colombia’s medical system under strain.

The exodus from Venezuela follows the ever-worsening decline of the oil-rich nation. There is continued deterioration in security, hyperinflation is predicted to skyrocket to one million percent, and food and medicine shortages are widespread.

The deployment of the Comfort had already provoked a hostile reaction by Venezuela before its arrival at the shores of Colombia. Upon the announcement of the U.S. mission, China, an ally of Venezuela, deployed its own medical ship to Venezuela in late September.

The government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro denies the existence of a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and alleges the migration crisis is a conspiracy invented to undermine Maduro’s rule.

U.S. President Donald Trump has called Maduro’s government a “repressive regime” responsible for the “human tragedy” in Venezuela, and has said the regime can be “toppled very quickly.”

Health Crisis

Malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV are surging in Venezuela following the collapse of its medical system, while measles and diphtheria—previously eradicated—have reappeared, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report. Health experts fear those diseases are spreading across borders.

“Venezuela’s public health system has collapsed, putting at risk the lives of countless Venezuelans,” said Shannon Doocy, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a report by HRW.

“The combination of a failing health system and widespread food shortages has produced a humanitarian catastrophe, and it will only get worse if it’s not addressed urgently.”

According to the report, the health crisis is compounded by increasing levels of malnutrition, as improper nutrition causes people to be more susceptible to infectious diseases and could cause more complications once a person is sick.

The agency says the Venezuelan government suppresses data about the country’s epidemiological situation to hide the extent of the health crisis in the nation. What’s more, physicians who publicly voice concerns about the health crisis are retaliated against.

USNS Comfort

In an attempt to alleviate the strain on local health services, the 894-foot-long former-oil tanker—and world’s largest medical vessel—hosts more than 900 staff who can tend to as many as 1,000 patients a day. Two helicopters airlift distant patients to the vessel where it is estimated 30 cataract surgeries, 70 general surgeries, and 100 gynecology procedures can be performed daily.

Following its time in Turbo on the west coast of Colombia, the boat will move onto Riohacha next week, a Caribbean port city in one of the most impoverished and neglected regions in Colombia. Situated close to the Venezuelan border, La Guajira department has been hit particularly hard by the migration crisis.

The medical ship’s next destination after Colombia is Honduras.

The ship has provided medical assistance in a number of missions within U.S. territory and abroad, including missions to Puerto Rico following the 2017 Hurricane Maria and Haiti following the 2010 earthquake in the region.

Reprinted with permission from - The Epoch Times - by Luke Taylor

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter
and Download the AMAC News App

Sign Up Today Download

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Sign Up Today
Read more articles by Outside Contributor
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rebecca Drummond
2 years ago

I am proud that we provide health care such as what this Naval ship offers. That is true humanitarianism of which the United States has always given to the world. That, however, does not justify opening our front door to anyone who wants to stop by and stay awhile, uninvited.

Rebecca Drummond
2 years ago

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez needs to read this article. She might finally get a true education regarding Communism/Socialism. Then there is the pied piper, Bernie Sanders, who played his music beautifully during the last election, luring all the poorly uneducated products from the government schools down the path of free everything for everyone. Common
sense, of which the left totally lacks in this country, tells us that nothing is free, even breathing air has a price tag in keeping it clean. Why wouldn’t caravans from south of our border with Mexico want to come to the United States so they could partake in “free” everything?

2 years ago

The most vilified and hated nation on earth, the United States at least according to most of the nations in the U.N., is always the first or frequently only country to consistently offer humanitarian aid to other nations in distress. Even those countries where their leaders, like in Venezuela and other socialist or communist Utopias, have inflicted so much unnecessary pain and endless misery onto their citizens. The real tragedy in almost all these cases, is that the people of these so-called socialist or communist Utopias bought this misery onto themselves. They did so by falling for the socialist / communist siren song of so-called “social and economic justice” without understanding what those terms mean under either socialism or communism. So they blindly and foolishly elected the very leaders that plunged their countries into the economic and humanitarian nightmare they are now forced to live under.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x