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LATIN AMERICA | 01-03-2019 16:15

Over five million people will flee Venezuela by the end of 2019, say officials

Over 3.4 million migrants and refugees from Venezuela have already settled in new nations in search of a better life.

By the end of 2019, 5.3 million migrants and refugees from Venezuela will be living in other nations across the world, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migrants (IOM) projected on Thursday.

Over 3.4 million migrants and refugees from Venezuela have already relocated, the groups reported. Latin American and Caribbean nations have welcomed 2.7 million of the migrants and refugees, with more than 130,000 Venezuelans now living in Argentina.

The impact of such figures could not be underestimated, officials said.

“The region could never have prepared for a phenomenon of this magnitude,” Eduardo Stein, a Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees in the region, said at a press conference in Buenos Aires on Thursday.

Colombia has taken in the most refugees to date, with more than 1.1 million Venezuelans living in the neighbouring country. Peru has made room for 506,000 Venezuelan people and Chile has taken in over 280,000. Latin American countries have already granted approximately 1.,3 million residence permits for Venezuelans, the rights groups revealed.

“Countries in the region have shown great solidarity for regufees and migrants from Venezuela,” Stein said. “Argentina is one of the countries that has done the most to receive Venezuelans the best.”

In December, the OIM and UNHCR launched a Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) for people leaving Venezuela. Under the plan, some 95 organisations in 16 countries are working together to establish humanitarian aid for over 2.2 million Venezuelans.

“Our force is dedicated to balancing the humanitarian demands of the crisis in Venezuela with the internal security of the country,” Stein said.

As the humanitarian crisis progresses under the regime of President Nicolás Maduro, Stein outlined a wide range of possible trajectories for conflict resolution.

"We have analysed four possibilities: a peaceful political understanding, an impasse between the parties, a violent implosion that could be the beginning of a civil war and an external military intervention," Stein said.

“We are in the second scenario, that of the impasse. Parties have rejected the possibility of external military intervention and it would be better if it did not happen,” Stein said.

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Anna Laffrey

Anna Laffrey

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