'Comfort' coming with Venezuelans' health in mind

The US Navy hospital ship 'Comfort' will visit Trinidad and Tobago soon during its upcoming medical support mission to Latin America to help tackle humanitarian crisis created by the influx of Venezuelan migrants, the US Southern Command said in a press release on Friday.

The ship will make port calls in 11 countries in total.

"Comfort medical teams will pull in to Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago for working port visits," the release said.

The medical teams aboard the Comfort will provide care on board and at land-based medical sites, helping to relieve pressure on national medical systems strained partly by an increase in cross-border migrants, SOUTHCOM said.

"Comfort medical teams will be working alongside host nation medical professionals who are absorbing thousands of Venezuelan migrants and refugees," US Navy Admiral Craig Faller, commander of US Southern Command, said in the release.

The ship's five-month deployment in mid-June to South America, Central America and the Caribbean will mark the seventh hospital ship deployment to the region since 2007, according to the release.

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 Venezuelan 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 Maduro as Venezuela's only legitimate president.

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