Venezuelans line up at reopened border crossing with Colombia

Andrew Cummings
June 9, 2019

Venezuelan border guards dressed in green uniforms helped to control the crowds.

A Venezuelan mother and child cross the Simon Bolivar Bridge to Cúcuta, Colombia, January 2019.

The economically-devastated South American nation is suffering from shortages of food, medicine and other essentials amid a power struggle between Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as interim president by more than 50 countries including the United States.

The closure had forced many Venezuelans to cross the frontier illegally to get basic necessities that were all but unattainable in Venezuela, he said, adding: "But that has become more hard during the rainy seasons, and these paths are also controlled by criminal groups".

More than a million Venezuelan refugees and migrants live in Colombia, where the government and aid agencies have scrambled to provide housing, food and healthcare to their ever-growing influx.

The latest increase has brought the total number of Venezuelan migrants and refugees overseas to 4 million, up from 695,000 in late 2015, when the opposition's election victory set the stage for intensifying conflict with President Nicolas Maduro.

One million people have left Venezuela since last November as the exodus from the crisis-hit South American country has continued to skyrocket, United Nations agencies said on Friday in Geneva, reports dpa news.

Maduro announced on Friday that the border with Colombia, which has remained closed since late February, will be reopened in western Tachira State on Saturday.

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie on Saturday urged the global community to provide more support to three South American countries with the most migrants from crisis-hit Venezuela, saying 20,000 Venezuelan children are at risk of being without basic citizenship rights. So far, only 21 per cent of the needed 738 million dollars have been funded by donor countries.

"These alarming figures highlight the urgent need to support host communities in the receiving countries", said Eduardo Stein, joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants.

Duque said he hoped Jolie's visit would alert the world to the seriousness of the migration crisis.

He, Jolie and UNHCR officials had a productive meeting on Saturday morning, Duque said, including a discussion about how to nationalize the stateless children.

Maduro accuses his foes of plotting with Washington to bring about a coup.

Other reports by iNewsToday