US Navy to Deploy Hospital Ship in Response to Venezuela Crisis - Pentagon

© AP PhotoMembers of the US Navy SEALS on a rubber boat patrol around the US Navy hospital ship the USNS Mercy
Members of the US Navy SEALS on a rubber boat patrol around the US Navy hospital ship the USNS Mercy - Sputnik International
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Navy hospital ship Comfort will deploy next month to the Western Hemisphere to provide support for regional countries in response of the crisis in Venezuela, US Southern Command (SOCOM) said in a statement on Tuesday.

“During a five-month humanitarian mission, US military and medical personnel will work alongside partners to provide medical assistance to communities based on needs identified by host-nation health ministries, and help relieve pressure on host nation medical systems in countries hosting Venezuelans who have fled the country's crisis”, the statement said.

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SOCOM did not specify which countries the Comfort would visit but said details would be announced at a later time. However, SOCOM did say the hospital ship would be deployed to the Caribbean, Central America and South America to conduct humanitarian medical assistance missions.

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"Comfort represents our enduring promise to our partners in the Western Hemisphere — our shared neighborhood", SOCOM commander Navy Admiral Craig Faller said in the statement.

The deployment will be Comfort's seventh visit to the Western Hemisphere, as well as the second such trip in the last six months, SOCOM noted.

"Comfort's operation is part of the deepening of our engagement in the region under the health pillar of the US-Caribbean 2020 Strategy", it added.

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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro waves as he walks next to Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez and Remigio Ceballos, Strategic Operational Commander of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, during a ceremony at a military base in Caracas, Venezuela May 2, 2019 - Sputnik International
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Venezuela has been suffering from severe political crisis since late January, when US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president in a bid to oust President Nicolas Maduro from power.

The United States and other countries have endorsed Guaido, calling on Maduro to step down and for new election to be held. Russia, China, Bolivia, Turkey and a number of other states have voiced their support for constitutionally-elected Maduro as Venezuela's only legitimate president.

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