Officials from Ecuador join their counterparts from Colombia, Peru and Brazil today in Bogota to discuss the Venezuelan migration crisis. According to the organizers, the meeting will focus on developing a common strategy to deal with the massive inflow of refugees.
Director of the Colombia immigration office, Christian Krüger Sarmiento, insists that it is critical for the four countries to develop plans that can be put into action immediately. “The exodus of Venezuelan citizens is not an exclusive problem of Colombia, of Peru, of Ecuador or of any single country but it affects us most directly,” he says. “We must protect our own national interests but must have compassion for the fact that the Venezuelans are in dire conditions and are not leaving their country for pleasure but as a result of the disastrous policies of [President] Nicolás Maduro.”
Because of its location adjacent to Venezuela, Colombia has seen the greatest influx of refugees, with more than one million currently living in the country and another 35,000 arriving each day.
New requirements have slowed the flow of Venezuelans into Ecuador and Peru, but both countries say that thousands continue to arrive each day.
Ecuador’s foreign ministry reports that it has granted 90,000 visas to Venezuelans since early last year with another 35,000 pending.
In total, about 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled their country since 2015 according to figures from the United Nations, which warns of the lack of food and medicine in the country.