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Updated On: Sunday, 22 September 2019

Update on Venezuelan Refugees

Content by: South-South News

28 August 2018, New York, USA | South-South News — The United Nations warned today that “the patience” of Venezuela’s neighbors is running out amid the continued mass exodus of people from the country, prompted by the long-term social and economic unrest there.

Migration is an accepted feature of life in Latin America, but the massive movement of people from Venezuela risks creating a crisis on a par with the European refugee crisis, warned the spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Joel Millman on August 24 in Geneva.

Millman said, “This is building to a crisis moment that we’ve seen in other parts of the world, particularly in the Mediterranean, and we have to start lining up priorities and funding and means to manage this as soon as we can.”

There is particular concern that countries such as Ecuador and Peru are considering putting in place new entry requirements for Venezuelans, Millman added.

He said, “Patience is running out. I think it’s a big, big number to have to assimilate. So when you see things, like countries contemplating passports only, we point out, as we did, that there are a lot of migrants, particularly teenagers and sometimes unaccompanied children, that may not have access to these documents.”

According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, some 130,000 Venezuelans have applied for asylum so far this year, marking a sharp spike since 2014-2015, when applications were in the low thousands.

 

The development follows a joint appeal by the heads of the UN refugee and migration agencies on Thursday for greater international support to meet the most basic needs of the displaced.

UNHCR’s spokesperson Andrej Mahecic said that it was important to recognize the generosity and commendable efforts of Venezuela’s neighbors in taking in vulnerable people at the border, but he condemned recent reports of violence against migrants and refugees, a likely reference to the Brazilian state of Roraima, where temporary dwellings were burned and families have been attacked.

He said, “We call for respects of refugees and people on the move in Latin America. We are concerned about these recent events, and the demonstrations against refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in some of the Latin American countries. Those increase stigmatization of those who are forced to flee, they put at risk also the efforts for their integration. Solidarity is actually the key here.”

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), close to half a million have fled from Venezuela to Ecuador in 2018 alone.Peru is also expecting its tally of Venezuelans to pass the 500,000 mark in coming weeks, according to media reports.

Also, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) published a report in June spotlighting serious human rights violations in Venezuela linked to political demonstrations, and the failure of the authorities to hold perpetrators accountable. The report detailed extrajudicial killings since 2015, the use of excessive force against demonstrators, arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and torture. It also detailed the grave impact of the economic and social crisis in the country on the rights to food and health.

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