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Ecuador News

Hundreds of Venezuelans head for home; In Brazil, many leave following lynching of refugee

It’s too early to tell if it’s a trend, but some Venezuelans refugees are going home. Increasingly, Venezuelans have been subject to physical and verbal attacks in countries where they have relocated and last week a Venezuelan suspected of murder was beaten to death by an angry mob in Brazil.

Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro

On Saturday, 80 Venezuelans in Roraima state in northern Brazil boarded buses supplied by the government of Nicolas Maduro to return home. They lived in a refugee camp close to where the 21-year-old Venezuelan was killed.

In Lima, Peru, several hundreds Venezuelans are waiting outside the embassy to secure “repatriation cards” needed for a free flight home. Maduro announced last week that the government will fly Venezuelans refuges home from Peru, Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia.

The decision of many refugees to return home is not only prompted by tension with locals but by a lack of employment in the host nations. A United Nations report last Wednesday said less than 25 percent of refugees are able to find job. “The economies of the nations accepting the Venezuelans can offer only limited employment opportunities due to the large numbers,” it said. “In addition, increased pressure on the job markets in Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and Peru is causing a backlash from local citizens who are pursuing the same jobs.”

In addition to the killing of the Venezuelan in Roraima, violence against refugees has also been reported in other countries, especially around camps set up in parks and on the outskirts of cities in host nations. “Until long-term solutions can be found to house the immigrants, violent incidents will continue and probably increase,” the UN said.

In Brazil, President Michel Temer mobilized 3,200 troops to prevent further violence in Roraima, near the refugee camps.

On Monday, Maduro attacked the government of Colombia for mistreating refugees and said he will begin demanding payment for what he claims are 5.6 million Colombians living in Venezuela.The latest Venezuelan census, however, only shows 721,000 Colombians living in the country while the Colombian foreign ministry puts the number at 940,000.