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LATIN AMERICA | 07-06-2019 14:02

'Staggering' Venezuelan exodus jumps to four million citizens

Exodus from crisis-stricken nation has reached a “staggering” pace, climbing from 695,000 people in all of 2015 to over one million people since last November, watchdogs groups reveal in new report.

Roughly four million citizens have fled Venezuela’s spiralling economic and political crisis, according to the latest figures from the United Nations.

The exodus has reached a “staggering” pace, climbing from 695,000 people in all of 2015 to over one million people since last November, the UN Refugee Agency and the International Organisation for Migration said in a report released on Friday.

Venezuela’s neighbours have enforced regulatory measures to try to stem the inflow of migrants, which is on pace to be the largest in Latin American history. If the situation doesn’t change, it could soon exceed the 6.3 million refugees created by the Syrian civil war.

Last year, over a dozen countries met repeatedly to address the influx of migrants that’s straining resources and stoking tensions across the region. Still, they have so far failed to adopt a universal policy. On Thursday, Peru said it would increase controls later this month by requiring Venezuelans first apply for humanitarian visas before crossing its borders.

Across Latin America, Colombia is the main destination for Venezuelans, as it now hosts some 1.3 million, the report said. Meanwhile, Peru hosts 768,000; Chile 288,000; Ecuador 263,000; Brazil 168,000 and Argentina 130,000. Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean also have received Venezuelans.

“These alarming figures highlight the urgent need to support host communities in the receiving countries,” said Eduardo Stein, the joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants. The “countries are doing their part to respond to this unprecedented crisis but they cannot be expected to continue doing it without international help.”

by Fabiola Zerpa & Andrew Rosati, Bloomberg

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