UN may need $1.5B for Venezuelan migrants

BOGOTA, Colombia

The number of resources needed to help Venezuelan migrants in Latin America would amount to $1.5 billion annually, said a UN official. 

Eduardo Stein, special representative of the UN Refugees Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for Venezuelan migration, told Anadolu Agency in an interview the situation is more complicated because only 33% of the initial $738 million figure has been received. 
“A more up-to-date approach is being finished taking into account the experiences and needs based on what’s going on since last December. There is going to be a new budget for November, which could be for $1.5 billion because the migrants’ flow has increased and the needs are enormous,” said Stein.

The representative said the figures for the migration crisis “are overwhelming” and that the number of people who have fled the South American country is already close to 5 million. 

“In only four years, 4,600,000 have fled Venezuela through the border crossing, but officials believe that this should be increased by at least 10%, for all those who use illegal steps, trails or paths,” he added. 

Stein referred to the immigration restrictions of countries like Peru, or more recently Ecuador, which generated an emergency at the end of August at the Rumichaca Bridge, the main border crossing between Colombia and Ecuador.

In this regard, Stein said that it is not possible to “question or object to the sovereign capacity of any of the governments, to define and decide who they admit in their territory,” because “the size, complexity, and range of this phenomenon is so large that has exhausted domestic resources in most countries.”

At this moment, 16 countries are receiving Venezuelan citizens. The first is Colombia, with more than 1.4 million migrants. Then Peru, just below 861,000; and Ecuador, with 330,000. Chile follows Ecuador, which until last year was not contemplated as a large recipient country, with 288,200 migrants. 

According to Stein, in addition to depleting “domestic resources,” the countries also face “saturation in health, education and feeding systems, and in the past four or five months, manifestations against the arrival of Venezuelans have increased in these countries, creating more political difficulties that did not exist.”   

Regional measures to be studied in Bogota in mid-November 

Stein confirmed that measures to address the migration crisis will be examined at the fifth meeting of the Quito Process, which will take place in Bogota between Nov. 14 -15. 

The meeting will address a process to generate a single document that would allow the circulation of Venezuelan citizens through all the countries of the region, as well as other intra-regional coordination mechanisms.

On the one hand, leaders will talk about a vaccination card, “which is the first successful experiment that is being carried out, because we found that due to lack of documentation, papers, and records, children were being vaccinated two and three times against the same disease by crossing two and three national borders,” Stein added.

“This vaccination card could be the nucleus of a card with more data and of course greater benefits for the population in movement. I think that in this meeting many of the aspects that have been put into practice in a tentative manner will be examined in order to resolve the issue of immigration documentation and regularization,” he explained. 

Saying that issues of “multiplication of economic opportunities” are also going to be discussed, Stein noted that after the first emergency stage, including shelter, food, health, and education, is provided, a “more difficult medium-term stage” is coming and is related to the economic and social integration of migrants in host communities.

“The key is to carrying employment opportunities for the community itself because the poor population of the host countries resents that their government is attended a migrant population, which is not national, and that supposedly removes opportunities for job. The employment issue is critical,” he concluded.

Venezuela’s economy has been in precipitous decline following a global downturn in the price of crude oil, the country’s main export, while ongoing political unrest also affects the country’s financial stability.

Nearly 5,000 people leave Venezuela every day because of “instability and uncertainty” amid a crisis focused on the presidency and economy, according to the UN’s refugee agency.

*Maria Paula Trivino from Colombia and Beyza Binnur Donmez from Ankara contributed to this story

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