Pity the children. Starving to death, dying of curable diseases, sold to sexual predators or simply abandoned, youngsters are paying a terrible price for Venezuela’s failed socialist experiment.
More than one in seven children are currently suffering from malnutrition as their hard-working parents’ salaries no longer cover the soaring cost of everyday living.
Common curable diseases – measles, diphtheria, and rotavirus diarrhea – which had been almost eradicated from the oil-rich state are now killing children in huge numbers. Pneumonia is picking off those too weak to fight.
Desperate mothers are selling their daughters’ young bodies for sex to buy food. Other poverty-stricken parents abandoned their children in the street to fight for themselves.
‘Venezuela was once the richest country in Latin America,’ Dr Huniades Urbina, a director of Caracas’ main children’s hospital, told MailOnline.
‘Patients would come to Caracas because we could provide the best care in the region. Now we can’t even feed the patients.’
Pictures of orphans at the Fundacion la Casa de Ana where the youngest in Venezuelan society are cared for after abandonment
Starved by high food prices, abandoned by their parents and vulnerable to curable diseases – these are the children of Venezuela
One of the babies at Hospital de Niños José Manuel de los Ríos in Caracas where most patients need their families to buy medicine for treatment the medics cannot afford
Starved of resources and riddled with interference from President Maduro’s socialist regime the Hospital de Niños José Manuel de los Ríos has been robbed of the much of the equipment a modern hospital needs.
There is no x-ray machine or CT scan. Nine of the twelve operating theatres have been closed and 310 of the 400 beds are no longer in use.
The hospital can no longer afford the medicines needed to treat their young patients. If their parents don’t buy them the patient dies.
‘Venezuela had a nationwide comprehensive vaccination programme against common childhood diseases – diphtheria, measles and rotavirus diarrhea.
‘The government said the country could no longer afford to buy these vaccinations and now we have epidemics of diphtheria and measles.
‘Children are dying from diarrhea caused by the rotavirus which could be easily prevented. Others are so weak that they are dying from pneumonia.
‘But malnutrition is the biggest killer.
‘Some 15 per cent of Venezuela’s children have malnutrition. This is the biggest cause of child mortality.’
Carolina Santander, a volunteer working at Fundacion la Casa de Ana children’s home has seen the horrors of the recent crisis unfold
The children who arrive dirty and diseased prefer the home for children because it means they can eat
There are no statistics on how many children died last year – the socialist regime refused to publish them. But 2017 figures showed the death rate had almost doubled in less than ten years from 16.6 per thousand to 30.9 per thousand.
High in the hills overlooking the sprawling city of Caracas a small country house hides another tragedy for Venezuela’s pitiful children.
Inside the Fundacion la Casa de Ana orphanage live 27 children who would otherwise be on the street.
Aged between three and 17 years old the youngsters each have a sad and sorry reason to be here.
One boy suffered life-changing injury when his mother cracked his head open.
Many of the girls have been the victims of sexual violence. Some of the girls were sold for sex by their parents.
‘Extreme poverty is the main reason the children are here,’ volunteer carer Carolina Santander told MailOnline.
‘Some have been sexually abused, some have been given to men for money but all of them have been abandoned.
‘Their parents could not afford to keep them.’
Children are starving and succumbing to illnesses which once Venezuela could easily treat
Teenagers gather in San Agustin neighborhood in Caracas where children are being mistreated by their own parents who are faced with desperate times
Among the smiling group of youngsters is Angelica, a bright faced 11-year-old with dimples.
‘I love it here,’ she told MailOnline. ‘I get something to eat five times-a-day.’
She is too grateful to reveal none of the orphans can remember the last time they ate meat or eggs.
Angelica and her five brothers and sisters were rescued just over a year ago from a slum on the outskirts of Caracas.
Starving, dirty and riddled with disease they had been abandoned by their mother and step-father.
Scavenging from rubbish bins Angelica’s stomach was bloated by parasites, her fingers were covered with warts. All of the children had lice.
Pictures of orphan Angelica and one of her sisters, when she had just arrived at the children’s home (left), after a few months (right)
‘My step-father mistreated me,’ she added simply.
Now she wants to train to be a doctor, ‘to help people’, she says, or maybe a teacher.
Abandoned by the state the Fundacion la Casa de Ana relies on the charity of volunteer carers, doctors and donations to keep going.
But the orphanage is almost out of cooking gas and their sack of rice is nearly empty.