Immigration officials expect the number of Venezuelans entering Ecuador at its border with Colombia to increase dramatically as Peru tightens its entry requirements. Beginning June 15, all Venezuelans entering Peru must have a valid passport and visa.
On Monday, three dozen additional migration police were dispatched to the Colombian border to process the additional traffic.
“There could be flood of people attempting to enter the country,” says Daniel Regalado, president of the Venezuelan Civil Association in Ecuador. “They are desperate to make it to Peru before the rules change. If they can’t enter Peru by Saturday many of them will stay in Ecuador.”
According to Ecuador’s foreign ministry, an average of 2,000 Venezuelans enter the country each day and, according to Regalado, that number could easily double. “When Peru enacts the new controls it will serve as a dam, trapping refugees in Ecuador and Colombia. It will also cause an increase in the number of people attempting to enter illegally,” he says.
Regalado is urging Ecuadorian authorities to create a “humanitarian corridor” and provide buses to transport refugees from the Colombian border to the Rumichaca – Huaquillas Peru crossing. Ecuador provided such a service for three weeks in 2018 when the daily entry of Venezuelans into Ecuador topped 4,000.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 3.9 million Venezuelans have left the country since 2015, of which 3.1 million remain in Latin America. Ecuador has processed 1.5 million arrivals in that period, one million since January 2018, and estimates that 300,000 to 350,000 have relocated in the country, many of them without documentation.
Quito, Santo Domingo, Cuenca, Guayaquil and Machala host the largest numbers of Venezuelans, Ecuador’s interior ministry says.