Interim Permanent Representative Fitzpatrick addressed a Special Meeting of the OAS Permanent Council to address the humanitarian crisis along the Colombia-Venezuela border and Colombia’s request for a Consultation of Ministers, August 31, 2015.
Thank you Mr. Chair. The United States has taken note of the ongoing humanitarian situation along the Colombia-Venezuela border.
The United States stands in support of an OAS foreign ministers’ meeting to discuss the border dispute at the earliest possible moment.
But before I discuss this urgent issue, I would like to convey my government’s condolences to the families of those in Dominica who perished at the hand of Tropical Storm Erika. The United States understands well how devastating such storms can be to a community and the challenging process of recovery and reconstruction. We stand with you.
The United States supports diplomatic efforts by Colombia and Venezuela to resolve the dispute underlying the humanitarian situation, including in appropriate multilateral fora.
We believe the OAS’s interest in taking up the issue this afternoon will help advance diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute on a timely basis. We welcome diplomatic engagement through other multilateral fora, including UNASUR, and believe such initiatives would reinforce and complement the dialogue within the OAS.
The worsening humanitarian situation along the border underlines the importance of resolving the matter peacefully and quickly.
We respect the importance of secure borders and safe and orderly migration. However, we also believe that deportations should take place in accordance with international law, respecting the human rights of all involved, and in coordination with the receiving country. We also believe that refugees with recognized protection concerns should not be deported.
Finally, we underline the importance of meeting the immediate needs of those deported or displaced. We will continue to work with the Government of Colombia, the international community, and civil society to ensure the well-being of these individuals and families.