In 1998, Venezuela had no history of mass migration to speak of. Since then, we’ve witnessed three heaves of outflows: the latest one mass-based. How a peaceful country ended up shedding more migrants than Afghanistan.
In Colombia, babies must be born from Colombian citizens or residents to obtain Colombian citizenship. What happens to babies with Venezuelan moms who face so many obstacles to have access to a Venezuelan birth certificate or a passport? Venezuelan babies without citizenship may become “an invisible generation” before the law.
The hidden ghosts of xenophobia and discrimination are coming out, but that’s overridden by an enormous group of people who help Venezuelans in their journey to a new and more dignified life.
During Almagro’s visit to Cúcuta, a city in the Colombia-Venezuela border, we got to see the depth of Venezuelans’ struggle. We identified the challenges ahead and the possible solutions to make it easier for migrants, refugees and for the receiving countries.
Guaranteeing a country’s national security and the human rights of migrants and refugees at the same time is a struggle. Every country has the right to determine who can stay and this right must be respected. However, the humanitarian crisis makes it imperative for countries to offer solutions and options to collectively preserve their rights.
Starting August 2, 2018, Venezuelans will have rights to health, education and employment in Colombia. With a decree approved by President Santos, around 400 thousand Venezuelans are now regular migrants. Other countries should follow the lead.
As Venezuela keeps massively exporting both migrants and refugees, the question remains whether the international community is ready to call the situation a crisis. Defining what a “crisis” is remains a challenge.
Alba Cecilia Pereira has been living in Colombia since 2004. She founded Entre2Tierras, to help Venezuelan immigrants get jobs, housing, medicine and food when they get there.
The numbers keep mounting: Venezuela’s migrant crisis is on a massive scale, and growing. With three million already gone, how many more people can we afford to lose?
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