A boy carries a drum of water as he walks past graffiti reading "Is Normality a Privilege?" during a power outage in Caracas on March 31. (Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)
A boy carries a drum of water as he walks past graffiti reading "Is Normality a Privilege?" during a power outage in Caracas on March 31. (Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)
A boy carries a drum of water as he walks past graffiti reading "Is Normality a Privilege?" during a power outage in Caracas on March 31. (Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images)

Infographic

A Portrait of Poverty and Desperation

A confidential U.N. report details the daily struggles of Venezuelans.

By , a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy, and

Assessing the scale of human suffering in Venezuela has proven increasingly difficult since 2015, when most institutions in President Nicolás Maduro’s government ceased publishing socioeconomic statistics. But a confidential United Nations report drafted last month based on independent data provides a glimpse of just how bad the situation there has become.

The 45-page report, titled Venezuela: Overview of Priority of Humanitarian Needs, describes widespread hunger, and diminishing access to education, clean water, electricity, and health care in a country that was once one of Latin America’s richest.

“[D]ue to an increasingly contracted economy and political unrest, the Venezuelan population is facing unprecedented challenges in accessing essential services, including protection, health care, medicines, vaccinations, water, electricity, education and access to food,” says the report, drafted by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Assessing the scale of human suffering in Venezuela has proven increasingly difficult since 2015, when most institutions in President Nicolás Maduro’s government ceased publishing socioeconomic statistics. But a confidential United Nations report drafted last month based on independent data provides a glimpse of just how bad the situation there has become.

The 45-page report, titled Venezuela: Overview of Priority of Humanitarian Needs, describes widespread hunger, and diminishing access to education, clean water, electricity, and health care in a country that was once one of Latin America’s richest.

“[D]ue to an increasingly contracted economy and political unrest, the Venezuelan population is facing unprecedented challenges in accessing essential services, including protection, health care, medicines, vaccinations, water, electricity, education and access to food,” says the report, drafted by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

It says Venezuela’s inflation jumped from 21.1 percent in 2012 to 10 million percent this year.

The report, which was obtained by FP, estimates that 7 million Venezuelans, out of a population of 28.8 million, are in dire need of assistance. It predicts that some 1.9 million Venezuelans will flee their homeland this year, in addition to the 3.4 million refugees who have already swamped neighboring countries.

The U.N. has been reluctant to release its findings in part because of concerns they would complicate efforts to secure cooperation from the government on international humanitarian relief efforts. The world body also worried that opponents of Maduro, including the United States, would use the report as part of their effort to bring down his government. The New York Times first cited the findings in a story last week.


3.7 million

The number of undernourished people from among an estimated current population of 29 million people (adjusted to reflect the 3.4 million migrants believed to have fled Venezuela).



406,000

The number of cases of malaria in 2017 according to the World Health Organization, a 69 percent increase from 2016, and the largest increase in the world.



1.9 million

The number of people in transit

3.4 million

The number of people abroad



81.4

The homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants in 2018, according to the Venezuela Observatory of Violence.



30%

The rate of infant mortality in 2015-2016, according to Venezuelas Ministry of Peoples Power for Health.

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

  Twitter: @seekayhickey

More from Foreign Policy

A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed  according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.
A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.

Why Do People Hate Realism So Much?

The school of thought doesn’t explain everything—but its proponents foresaw the potential for conflict over Ukraine long before it erupted.

Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.
Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.

China’s Crisis of Confidence

What if, instead of being a competitor, China can no longer afford to compete at all?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.

Why This Global Economic Crisis Is Different

This is the first time since World War II that there may be no cooperative way out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.

China Is Hardening Itself for Economic War

Beijing is trying to close economic vulnerabilities out of fear of U.S. containment.