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USAID: US to Give $2.5 Million to Help Venezuelans in Colombia

Venezuelans line up to cross into Colombia at the border in Paraguachon, Colombia, Feb. 16, 2018.

The United States said on Tuesday it would provide $2.5 million for food and medicine to help Venezuelans fleeing their economically crippled country to neighboring Colombia.

It is the first funding by the U.S. government's main aid agency to help Venezuela's neighbors deal with the influx of hundreds of thousands of desperate migrants trying to escape the worsening crisis in Venezuela.

Mark Green, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said in a statement that the $2.5 million will provide emergency food and health assistance for Venezuelan migrants and the Colombian communities that are hosting them.

The United States has imposed sanctions on President Nicolas Maduro and other members of the Venezuelan government for corruption and stifling opposition voices.

On Monday, Washington banned any U.S. transactions involving Venezuela's new "petro" cryptocurrency and said it was looking at ways to sanction the country's oil sector.

Colombia has born the brunt of the exodus of Venezuelans fleeing malnutrition and political turmoil as the number of Venezuelans living within its borders jumped by 62 percent in the second half of last year to more than 550,000.

Colombia has estimated that it costs $5 per day to supply each Venezuelan migrant with food and lodging. The government did not say how many migrants it was supporting.

"Regrettably, this crisis in Venezuela, which is now spilling into the broader region, is man-made - the result of continued political mismanagement and corruption by the Maduro regime," Green said.