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How Much Longer Can Venezuela’s Neighboring Countries Handle the Refugee Crisis?

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Members of the Venezuelan Indigenous group Warao take refuge at the Janokoida United Nations shelter on April 6th, 2019, in Pacaraima, Brazil.

The political and socioeconomic crisis in Venezuela has spurred an unprecedented population outflow. It is currently the biggest exodus in Latin America’s recent history and the second-largest displacement crisis in the world, after Syria. Between 2015 and now, the number of Venezuelans fleeing their country went from 695,000 to four million, according to the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Throughout 2018, roughly 5,000 people left Venezuela on a daily basis—pushed by lack of access to food and essential services, as well as violence—with projections that there will be 5.4 million Venezuelans living abroad by the end of 2019. 

Such a massive and fast influx of people also has a ripple effect on the receiving end. 

“Latin American and Caribbean countries are doing their part to respond to this unprecedented crisis but they cannot be expected to continue doing it without international help,” Eduardo Stein, joint UNHCR-IOM special representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants said in a statement. 

So far, Colombia is hosting the most significant number of migrants, 1.3 million, followed by Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, and Argentina. Most nations have stood in solidarity with the Venezuelan people and tried to keep an “open-door” policy. Just this week, Colombia announced that it will offer citizenship to more than 24,000 children of Venezuelan refugees born in the country between August of 2015 and 2021. And Brazil for the first time implemented an expanded definition of refugees to allow for the recognition of more cases from Venezuela. 

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