efe-epaMiami, USA

A United States Navy hospital ship will provide medical assistance to 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, the US Southern Command announced Thursday.

Medical staff on the USNS Comfort will provide services in Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago.

"This deployment responds directly to the man-made crisis Maduro’s regime has created," Adm. Craig Faller, head of the US Southern Command, said in a statement.

Although the mission was announced on May 7, the US Southern Command had not specified in which countries the five-month mission will take place and there is no exact date for the departure of the Comfort, which is based in Norfolk, Virginia, although it will be in mid-June.

"Comfort medical teams will be working alongside host nation medical professionals who are absorbing thousands of Venezuelan migrants and refugees," Fuller said.

“The Venezuelan people are desperately fleeing their homeland for hope of a better way of life. We are committed to finding ways to support the Venezuelan people and our regional partners who share the goal of seeing a legitimate, democratic government reinstated in Venezuela,” said the head of the Southern Command.

This is the seventh deployment of the USNS Comfort since 2007.

Its last mission between Oct. and Dec. 2018 in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and Honduras, lasted eleven weeks and helped more than 26,700 patients.

According to the statement, 599 surgeries were performed on board during that trip.

The aim on its upcoming mission is to help "relieve pressure on national medical systems" in countries that have welcomed the millions of Venezuelans who have fled the political, social and economic crisis in their nation.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are 3.7 million Venezuelans who have left their country due to the crisis.

ar/igx/uw/ks