UN names special envoy to handle Venezuela’s growing exodus

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The United Nations has announced a special envoy to handle the growing number of Venezuelan migrants flooding into surrounding countries.

Former Guatemalan Vice President Eduardo Stein was named Wednesday as joint special representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants.

A once wealthy oil nation, Venezuela is wracked by severe food and medicine scarcity after two decades of socialist rule. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government denies a migration crisis, calling it fake news drummed up by foreign powers as an excuse to invade.

The United Nations estimates 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled over the past four years — roughly 7 percent of the population. Many left for Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.

The U.N. says Stein will work to protect displaced Venezuelans and look for solutions to the growing problem.

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