Yahoo! News Photo Staff

Venezuelans flee economic crisis at home

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https://www.yahoo.com/news/venezuelans-flee-economic-crisis-home-slideshow-wp-165522709.html

The Pentagon is preparing to dispatch a hospital ship to Colombia and possibly other parts of South America to help relieve strain on health care systems overloaded by an influx of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who have fled that crisis-racked nation, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday.

“It is absolutely a humanitarian mission,” he told reporters returning with him to Washington after a six-day tour of South America.

Mattis would not say when the USNS Comfort would arrive off the coast of Colombia, but it apparently will not be in the next few weeks. Dana W. White, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman, said it would be “in the fall,” but she would not be more specific.

As a result of a dire economic and health care situation, rising numbers of Venezuelans are joining an exodus that has set off alarms across Latin America.

The United Nations said earlier this week that an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the crisis-torn country as of June, mainly to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. (AP)

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Venezuelan citizens wait in line to cross to Ecuador at the Rumichaca international bridge in Ipiales, Colombia, on Aug. 11, 2018. (Photo: Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images)


Venezuelan migrants stand in line to register their exit from Colombia before entering into Ecuador, at the Rumichaca International Bridge, Colombia, Aug. 9, 2018. (Photo: Daniel Tapia/Reuters)


A detained Venezuelan migrant waits on a bus to be transported to Los Olivos district in Lima, Peru, Aug. 17, 2018. (Photo: Guadalupe Pardo/Reuters)


Venezuelan citizens hold up their identification cards for inspection by the Colombian immigration police, in Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela on Feb. 22, 2018. (Photo: Fernando Vergara/AP)


A group of Venezuelans walk along the Panamericana route towards Lima on Aug. 14, 2018 in Tumbes, Peru. (Photo: Manuel Medir/Getty Images)


Venezuelan citizens wait to cross the border to Ecuador at the Rumichaca international bridge in Ipiales, Colombia, on Aug. 11, 2018. (Photo: Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images)


Venezuelan citizens who remain in an improvised camp by the bus terminal in the north of Quito, Ecuador, reach for donations on Aug. 9, 2018. (Photo: Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images)


Venezuelan citizens wait in line to cross to Ecuador at the Rumichaca international bridge in Ipiales, Colombia, on Aug. 11, 2018. (Photo: Leonardo Castro/AFP/Getty Images)


Venezuelans cross the International Simon Bolivar bridge into Cucuta, Colombia on Feb. 21, 2018, as rising numbers of Venezuelans are fleeing in a burgeoning refugee crisis that could soon match the flight of Syrians from the war-torn Middle East. (Photo: Fernando Vergara/AP)


A Venezuelan woman and her baby wait in line to cross to Ecuador at the Rumichaca international bridge in Ipiales, Colombia, on Aug. 11, 2018. (Photo: Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images)


Venezuelan migrants wait to be assisted by the Ecuadorian Red Cross at the Rumichaca International Bridge in Ecuador, Aug. 17, 2018. (Photo: Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters)


José Cordoba, 20 years old, of Yaracuy, Venezuela, walks along the Panamericana route towards Lima on Aug. 16, 2018 in Tumbes, Peru. (Photo: Manuel Medir/Getty Images)


Venezuelan migrants wait outside Interpol headquarters to get paperwork needed for a temporary residency permit, in Lima, Peru, Aug. 17, 2018. (Photo: Mariana Bazo/Reuters)


A Venezuelan woman wears a cap with the colors of Venezuelan flag as she drinks coffee with milk after receiving a free vaccination and showing her passport at the Pacaraima border control, Roraima state, Brazil, Aug. 8, 2018. (Photo: Nacho Doce/Reuters)


A Venezuelan woman holds a girl at a health post for migrants in Cucuta, along Colombia’s border with Venezuela, Monday, July 16, 2018. (Photo: Christine Armario/AP)


A military officer (R) talks to Venezuelans as they queue to show their passports or identity cards at the Pacaraima border control, Roraima state, Brazil, Aug. 8, 2018. (Photo: Nacho Doce/Reuters)


A Venezuelan migrant woman makes a makeshift tent after walking from her homeland through Colombia to Quito, Ecuador, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. (Photo: Dolores Ochoa/AP)


A woman serves food in a shelter for Venezuelan migrants in Cucuta, Colombia, Aug. 8, 2018. (Photo: Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters)


A Venezuelan woman and her son queue in line to show their passports or identity cards at the Pacaraima border control, Roraima state, Brazil, Aug. 8, 2018. (Photo: Nacho Doce/Reuters)


Venezuelan migrants rest at a makeshift tent in Quito, Ecuador, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018. (Photo: Dolores Ochoa/AP)


Venezuelan migrants carry their luggage to cross from Venezuela to Colombia via the Simon Bolivar international bridge in Cucuta, Colombia, Aug. 8, 2018. (Photo: Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters)


Venezuelan children wait for a free meal at a migrant shelter set up at the Tancredo Neves Gymnasium in Boa Vista, Roraima state, Brazil on March 8, 2018. This is the largest of three shelters for migrants in the city, and has 700 people despite being equipped for 200. (Photo: Eraldo Peres/AP)


A Venezuelan woman holds a girl at a health post for migrants in Cucuta, along Colombia’s border with Venezuela, Monday, July 16, 2018. (Photo: Christine Armario/AP)


Venezuelan migrants pray before lunch at the “Divina Providencia” migrant shelter run by the diocese of Cucuta, in Cucuta, Colombia, Feb. 23, 2018, on the border with Venezuela. The diocese offers an average of 1000 meals a day for the migrants. (Photo: Fernando Vergara/AP)


Venezuelans queue in line to show their passports or identity cards at the Pacaraima border control, Roraima state, Brazil, Aug. 9, 2018. (Photo: Nacho Doce/Reuters)


A Venezuelan man and his son sleep along a street as they wait to show their passports or identity cards the next day, at the Pacaraima border control, Roraima state, Brazil, Aug. 8, 2018. (Photo: Nacho Doce/Reuters)


A member of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) talks with Venezuelans as they queue in line to receive a vaccine after showing their passports or identity cards at the Pacaraima border control, Roraima state, Brazil, Aug. 8, 2018. (Photo: Nacho Doce/Reuters)


Dulce from Venezuela poses with her instrument after she obtained a refugee status, through the Federal Police and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) at the Pacaraima border control, Roraima state, Brazil, Aug. 9, 2018. (Photo: Nacho Doce/Reuters)