The economic crisis in Venezuela has become a migration crisis. In the last two years, nearly one million Venezuelans emigrated as their country’s economy fell. The Washington Post reports on how Venezuela’s neighbors are dealing with influxes of migrants and how the crisis resembles the European migrant crisis.
“The massive scale of the exodus is being compared to the flow of Syrians into Western Europe in 2015. And, just as in that crisis, countries overwhelmed by the flood of new arrivals are beginning to bar their doors.”
However, a major difference between the migrants fleeing the two migrant crisis is the status of the migrants as the Washington Post article points out.
“Jozef Merkx, representative for the U.N. high commissioner for refugees in Colombia, said the agency is concerned about the operations. But because Venezuela is not at war, its people are harder to classify as refugees in need of international protection.”
President MichelTemer recently declared a state of emergency after visiting a border state in northern Brazil. His government has pledged $20 million and a new field hospital to help handle the situation. However, the government in Brasilia is also moving to control the border.
“Officials say they will treat the newcomers as Brazilian citizens. But Temer also vowed to double the number of troops at the border.”
Colombia has borne the brunt of the recent waves of migrants. Venezuela borders Brazil, Colombia, and Guyana. However, economics and geography have pushed most Venezuelans to cross the western border with Colombia.
Since August 250,000 Venezuelans have migrated to Colombia. This peaked in December when 90,000 people crossed the border in a single day. Currently, 3,000 Venezuelans are crossing into Colombia daily.
“The sheer numbers have led to a backlash in Colombian cities and towns, prompting the national government last month to suspend the issuance of temporary visas for Venezuelans. Colombian authorities are now launching operations in which dozens of Venezuelans a day are captured and expelled.”
There does not seem to be any reason to suspect that migration flows from will slow on their own. The International Monetary Fund forecasts Venezuela’s economy to continue to shrink and President Maduro does not appear to be willing to take drastic steps to reduce the suffering in his country.