Venezuela migrant crisis pushes neighbors’ borders and patience to their limits

World Today

PERU-VENEZUELA-ECUADOR-MIGRATIONVenezuelan nationals load up the vehicles that will transport them to the bus stations in nearby Tumbes after being autorized to enter Peru at the binational border attention centre (CEBAF) in Tumbes, northern Peru in the border with Ecuador, on August 23, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / CRIS BOURONCLE)

U.N. officials said a growing Venezuelan migrant crisis would reach the same level as that seen in the Mediterranean.

Migration officials from neighboring countries have an emergency meeting to tackle the crisis as a group.

CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports from Lima.

Thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing hunger and hyperinflation, flooding border towns across the region. As the exodus of migrants from Venezuela reaches a crisis point, Latin America is working out how to cope.

Peru’s border with Ecuador is especially packed, with thousands requesting asylum just as the country tightened its entry requirements. Among the migrants was Aracely Pocaterra, who was reunited with her four-year-old daughter who had arrived from Venezuela.

“It’s not because we want to go, we are here out of necessity, because we are dying there,” she explained. “People do not eat well. So what is the point in sending money if you can’t get anything, if the price of something tomorrow is double. What’s that? That’s not a life.”

Migration authorities from Peru, Ecuador and Colombia are meeting this week in Bogota to coordinate their response to the unprecedented crisis.

“I think it’s promising. It’s an opportunity to sit down, a little bit overdue, but it’s promising,” Michael Shifter, President of the Inter-American Dialogue, told CGTN. “At least it’s a step in the right direction to try harmonize policies, and try to share the burden on very weak states that have few resources and have no capacity to handle these kinds of the incoming refugees.”


A Venezuelan woman walks with a baby in arms at the binational border attention centre (CEBAF) in Tumbes, northern Peru in the border with Ecuador on August 23, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / CRIS BOURONCLE)

An estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans have left their country since 2014. About 400,000 are already in Peru, according to official figures. While the country has offered generous migration opportunities to Venezuelans, that could run out as numbers swell.

Since last year, Venezuelans have been able to apply for special residency permits allowing them to work, study and receive healthcare. But some employers have taken advantage of their situation to use them as cheap labor, which means some Peruvians are out of a job.

The government says it is not closing the door on migrants, tensions are beginning to rise.