Costa Rica will receive the USNS Comfort, a United States Navy hospital ship, as part of the vessel’s five-month medical mission beginning next month.
The mission is in response to “the humanitarian crisis created by the ongoing political and economic instability in Venezuela,” according to a press release from the U.S. Southern Command.
“This deployment responds directly to the man-made crisis [Nicolás] Maduro’s regime has created,” said U.S. Navy Adm. Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, which will oversee the deployment. “Comfort medical teams will be working alongside host nation medical professionals who are absorbing thousands of Venezuelan migrants and refugees.
“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.”
In addition to Costa Rica, the ship will make working port visits to Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Medical teams aboard the USNS Comfort will provide on-board care and can assist at land-based medical facilities, “helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems strained partly by an increase in cross-border migrants,” according to the release.
“The deployment reflects the United States’ enduring promise of friendship, partnership and solidarity with the Americas,” the press release reads.
According to the United Nations, at least 2.3 million people have fled Venezuela since 2015. The majority have immigrated to other Latin American countries, and Costa Rica has joined at least seven other nations committing to giving migrants a path to legal residency.
The U.S. Southern Command did not specify when the USNS Comfort will arrive in Costa Rica.