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article imageMass migration from Venezuela largest in Latin American history

By Karen Graham     Jun 8, 2019 in World
The number of Venezuelans who have fled the country's political and economic chaos has now topped 4 million — more than 12 percent of the population. It is one of the largest mass migrations in Latin American history, according to the United Nations.
The number of Venezuelans leaving their country has reached 4 million, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and IOM, the International Organization for Migration, announced on Friday.
Since the beginning of the exodus in 2015, when some 695,000 fled the hunger, violence, misery, and death caused by a bloodthirsty and merciless dictatorship, the number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela had skyrocketed to over 4 million by mid-2019.
CBC is reporting that Colombia is now home to 1.3 million displaced Venezuelans, followed by Peru with 768,000, Chile with 288,000, Ecuador 263,000 and more than 100,00 in both Brazil and Argentina.
In this file photo taken on January 9  2019 migrants from Cuba  Venezuela and Central America queue ...
In this file photo taken on January 9, 2019 migrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Central America queue at the Paso del Norte International Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to cross the border and request political asylum in the United States
Herika MARTINEZ, AFP/File
What is very worrying is that the exodus is accelerating as U.S. sanctions are strangling the lifeblood out of the Venezuelan economy. Those crossing the border into other countries come without any money, due to the hyperinflation in Venezuela, and quite often with just the clothes on their backs.
"What used to be primarily migrant men looking for jobs over the border, relief workers say, are now increasingly groups made up of women and children — whole families who feel they have no choice but to go. By foot," reported a team from NPR's All Things Considered. "Those traveling on foot, as most are, have been given a collective name: Los Caminantes."
"I had to cross the border to find food for my children," said 31-year-old Mariu Materano, who is traveling with four of her kids. "I used to have a job running a small cafeteria at the university, but all of that ended when the economy in Venezuela collapsed."
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the country's problems on US sanctions
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro has blamed the country's problems on US sanctions
Federico Parra, AFP/File
Increasing migration northward
There are “significant” numbers were also heading to the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, and the United States, according to the UN group. In 2018 Venezuela overtook China as the No. 1 source country for U.S. asylum claims, with almost 30,000 applications. But according to the US Department of Homeland Security, only 2 percent of claims for asylum are selected.
This lack of sympathy brings home a crisis that the Trump administration has fueled through its aggressive attempts to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power. Despite Donald Trump’s outspoken hostility towards Maduro, his administration has resisted calls to grant Venezuelan migrants protection under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program.
Eduardo Stein, joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants, said in a statement: "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."
Crippling power blackouts in Venezuela are forcing rich and poor alike to wait in long lines for dri...
Crippling power blackouts in Venezuela are forcing rich and poor alike to wait in long lines for drinking water, while some hoist it from sewers to be able to flush their toilets
FEDERICO PARRA, AFP
A number of South American countries have begun issuing stricter requirements for those wanting to enter their nations. This past week, Peru’s president, Martín Vizcarra, said that as of 15 June Venezuelan migrants – many of whom lack passports – would need to obtain humanitarian visas from Peruvian consulates in Venezuela before coming. This came after accusations that Venezuelans were responsible for an increase in crime.
Peru’s interior minister, Carlos Morán, blames Venezuelans for the crime increase. “I don’t want to be xenophobic [but] the presence of Venezuelan citizens … has caused these [crime] rates to shoot up,” Morán said.
More about Venezuela, us sanctions, Hyperinflation, mass migration, Humanitarian crisis
 
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