Thank you for taking the time to be here today, members of the Security Council, Permanent Representatives, non-governmental organizations, and others, for coming to discuss the situation on Venezuela. In particular, I would like to thank Italy for co-hosting this important event.
Today we will hear from people who can speak to the deteriorating situation in Venezuela and who are also working to mitigate the human suffering and growing humanitarian situation on the ground.
It is a real privilege and pleasure to welcome Luis Almagro, Secretary-General of the Organization of American States. The OAS is the first multilateral organization to recognize the severity of the situation in Venezuela and the need for us to come together to address it.
We are truly honored to have High Commissioner Zeid with us to brief on the human rights situation in Venezuela. Thank you, Mr. High Commissioner, for helping us better understand the human rights abuses and violations that have taken place in the past six months.
Our heartfelt thanks goes to Joseph Cornelius Donnelly from Caritas International for being with us today. He will speak to us about the humanitarian situation on behalf of the Vatican.
And finally, we welcome Julio Henriquez of the Refugee Freedom Program, which conducts research on the forced displacement of Venezuelans and provides legal services to those fleeing political persecution. We are grateful for the work that your organization does every day to help the people of Venezuela.
To our distinguished panelists, I say that we are sincerely grateful for the time that you have taken to be with us today. Your insight and knowledge is invaluable in helping us shed light on the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, which we believe needs greater international attention.
We are also honored to have former Venezuelan Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Diego Arria, with us today. Ambassador Arria told me recently that he never imagined he would see an Arria-formula meeting on his home country of Venezuela when he first gave this session his name over 15 years ago. While we know this is a painful experience, we all hope to achieve greater insight to allow for a resolution for the Venezuelan people.
Following our panel, I invite fellow members of the Security Council to the floor to give remarks and take part in the discussion by asking questions. Conscious of time, we only ask that you limit your time to less than five minutes. I will then give our panelists an opportunity to answer any questions from Council members.
Now, I welcome Secretary-General Almagro to the podium.