Eerie photo sums up humanitarian crisis facing starving Venezuela

US urges Venezuelan troops to allow aid into the country in exchange for freedom from sanctions

Venezuelan military blocks bridge to keep humanitarian aid out

Dozens of volunteers prepared sacks of rice, canned tuna and protein-rich biscuits for malnourished children at a warehouse on the Colombian border on Friday as Venezuela's opposition vowed to deliver the US humanitarian aid to their troubled nation, even if it means mounting a mass mobilization of their countrymen to carry it in.

"Venezuela will not allow the show of... humanitarian aid because we do not beg from anyone", he told reporters.

The United States is imposing a ban on the travel of the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly's members to the USA, said a us envoy on Venezuela-related issues.

Mr Pouyanne continued: "We chose to evacuate all of our personnel from Venezuela given the current situation" adding that the evacuation process had begun more than a week ago.

Earlier this week, opposition leaders announced the coordinated shipments of baby formula, medical supplies, and food from the U.S., Colombia, and Venezuelans overseas.

During a presentation of the group's annual financial results, Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne said: "The accounts have been blocked in light of the USA decisions".

Colombia has borne the brunt of the exodus of Venezuelans fleeing malnutrition and political turmoil in their once-prosperous nation, with about 800,000 flooding over the border and settling in Colombia.

The Maduro government, responsible for an economic collapse that has reportedly forced some three million Venezuelans to flee the country, lashed out at the European Union nations, saying their move would damage relations with Caracas.

Maduro also accused US President Donald Trump of orchestrating a coup.

Venezuela's dire situation has fuelled a political crisis that has peaked over the last month with Guaido invoking a constitutional provision to declare himself the legitimate, interim president.

"I want to see how many military officers are willing to commit crimes against humanity by not allowing the lives of the most vulnerable to be saved, 250,000 to 300,000 are at risk of dying if they do not receive immediate attention", Guaido said during a gathering of university students.

Guadio is backed as the de facto leader by more than 40 nations, including the USA and major European powers, who want Maduro to step down.

Mr Guaido, the country's National Assembly chief, says the May 2018 vote in which Mr Maduro won a second six-year term was a sham.

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying's statement came in response to a question about a meeting on Thursday of an "International Contact Group" led by Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez and attended by leaders of 14 countries, including Spain, Italy, Portugal and Sweden.

Venezuela's Foreign Ministry has denounced any global support for Guaido, suggesting that European governments were acting as part of a US-led effort to topple Maduro, who has showed no signs of relinquishing power.

The 35-year-old Guaido caused shockwaves in Venezuelan politics on January 23 when he declared himself acting president, a move quickly backed by the U.S. and subsequently around 40 countries.

Trump last week issued sweeping sanctions against state oil company PDVSA, froze profits generated by refining subsidiary Citgo, and has vowed to starve Maduro's government of all revenue.

On Monday, Canada hosted a meeting of the Lima Group regional bloc to discuss how the worldwide community can further help the people of Venezuela, including through immediate humanitarian assistance.

The director of the Colombian emergency department, Eduardo Jose Gonzales Angulo, said the delivery of aid was a five-stage process but that the final two stages - moving the aid to the border and distributing it within the country - would be up to Guaido and his team.

A Venezuelan Supreme Court justice says the constitution does not include language for forming a transitional government as opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido claims.

Opening a session in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a contribution of 53 million Canadian dollars ($40.4 million) in aid to Venezuela. "Humanitarian aid now. United public outcry".

He said: "Everyone knows that there will be no clashes between civilians in Venezuela".

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