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Venezuelan refugees now number 3.4 million; humanitarian implications massive, UN warns

Venezuelan refugees and migrants cross the Simon Bolivar Bridge into Colombia, one of seven legal entry points on the Colombia-Venezuela border.
Venezuelan refugees and migrants cross the Simon Bolivar Bridge into Colombia, one of seven legal entry points on the Colombia-Venezuela border. -- photo credit: UNHCR/Sigfried Modola

As the number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela continues to rise – hitting the 3.4 million mark this month – United Nations agencies sounded the alarm on Friday over the humanitarian needs these women, children and men face, and the strain this represents for communities hosting them.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the UN migration agency (IOM) issued statements based on data from national immigration authorities and other sources, showing that, on average, in 2018, 5,000 people left Venezuela every day in search of protection or a better life. The vast majority of them – 2.7 million – are hosted in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Currently, Colombia hosts the highest number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, with over 1.1 million. It is followed by Peru, with 506,000, Chile 288,000, Ecuador 221,000, Argentina 130,000, and Brazil 96,000. Mexico and other countries in Central America and the Caribbean are also hosting significant numbers of refugees and migrants from Venezuela.

“The countries of the region have shown tremendous solidarity with refugees and migrants from Venezuela, and implemented resourceful solutions to help them,”

“But these figures underscore the strain on host communities and the continued need for support from the international community, at a time when the world’s attention is on political developments inside Venezuela,” 

Eduardo Stein" title="joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants

 To date, Latin American countries have granted about 1.3 million residence permits and other forms of regular status to Venezuelans. Asylum systems have also been reinforced in order to process an unprecedented number of applications. Since 2014, over 390,000 asylum claims have been lodged by Venezuelans – close to 60 per cent (232,000) happened in 2018 alone.

[ full story on UN News ]

Last modified on Friday, 22 February 2019 17:30

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