Dec 15, 2020 (Diplomat times) : UNHCR warned today that between 500 and 700 Venezuelans are leaving their country every day, despite borders across the region remaining closed. Forced to use informal routes where armed groups and trafficking networks are active, they are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Venezuela does not easily come to mind when discussing the issue of displaced populations in many part of the world. Yet, according to United nations, more then 5.1 million people have fled from Venezuela since 2016 to flee the severe humanitarian crises caused by the Nicolas Maduro regime; indeed, these Venezuelan refugees constitute the second largest migrant population in the world, just after Syrians.
Conditions inside Venezuela have deteriorated during the pandemic and many are arriving weak and poorly nourished to host communities in Colombia that have also been hard-hit by COVID-19. UNHCR and IOM, jointly with another 157 organizations, released a US$1.44 billion plan on Thursday to respond to the growing needs of Venezuelan refugees and migrants hosted in 17 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean in 2021. Many have experienced loss of jobs and evictions during lockdowns and are more dependent than ever on humanitarian assistance. UNHCR reports that, in desperation, more than 122,000 Venezuelans crossed back into Venezuela during the pandemic, only to find conditions there so difficult that some are now attempting to , leave again, often on foot with young children.