MADRID, 11 Dic. (EUROPA PRESS) –
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has called to address “urgently” the needs of Venezuelan migrants and refugees and has warned that between 500 and 700 people continue to leave Venezuela every day, with “unprecedented levels of trauma and despair “and, for the most part, in” extreme conditions “.
A day after United Nations agencies announced a humanitarian response plan worth 1,440 million dollars (almost 1,200 million euros) to assist Venezuelan migrants and host communities, UNHCR has insisted that the Needs have been exacerbated in recent months, largely by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many arrive in extreme conditions to communities that have already been hit hard by the pandemic. Urgent support is needed to protect and help them,” UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch warned in a statement to the media on Friday.
The UN estimates that 5.4 million Venezuelans are outside their country. The closure of borders has led part of the migrants to cross informal routes, “where illegal armed actors and trafficking networks operate.” They are therefore “exposed to a greater risk of suffering violence, exploitation and trafficking”, with already reported cases of theft, extortion or abuse.
Those who arrive in Colombia do so mostly – 70 percent – on foot, “some only with the clothes they carry on their backs,” according to Baloch. “Given that conditions within Venezuela continue to deteriorate, many arrive in Colombia weak and with poor nutritional status, after having suffered poverty and deprivation for many months,” he warned.
UNHCR staff in border areas have detected a “notable increase” in the number of people arriving “in extremely precarious states”, also unaccompanied minors. Having entered Colombia illegally in most cases complicates regularization and, by extension, access to basic services.
“The fear of being detained or deported inhibits some refugees and migrants from approaching humanitarian organizations to ask for help, as well as the competent authorities,” explained Baloch, who also denounced a growing hostility of local citizens towards the newcomers.
UNHCR has appealed to the solidarity of the countries of the region, as well as that of the international community, which has now been summoned with the latest appeal for help. For the spokesperson, “the support of the international community continues to be essential to increase humanitarian efforts and help host countries to maintain protection spaces and guarantee peaceful coexistence.”