|The Venezuelan refugee crisis is the largest recorded refugee crisis that occurred in America. / Photo by fermate via 123f|
The Venezuela refugee crisis will get worse next year and the challenges will even be greater than those already faced in 2019, said UN representative in a conference in Brussels co-hosted with the European Commission.
Special representative for the UN refugee and migration agencies Eduardo Stein said that they project the number of Venezuelan migrants and refugees to reach 4.5 to 6.5 million. He also warned how the neighboring countries have been struggling to host said arrivals.
The Venezuelan refugee crisis
The Venezuelan refugee crisis, also known as Bolivarian diaspora, is the largest recorded refugee crisis that occurred in America. It refers to the emigration of millions of Venezuelans from their native nation because of the Bolivarian Revolution during the presidencies of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro.
According to the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute, which seeks to improve immigration and integration policies through research and analysis, the economic crisis started when Chavez imposed 21st-century socialism after he took office in 1999. He set out to channel the vast oil wealth of Venezuela toward social welfare programs for the poor. When Chavez died, his successor Maduro continued the same path although the conditions deteriorated.
The reversal of fortune
The country provided a legal framework, aiming to eliminate private property through the nationalization and confiscation of private businesses. This resulted in an increase in public employment in the country, but unemployment and informal work also swelled. The scarcity of goods and foods also resulted and the majority of state enterprises went bankrupt. Housing deficit grew and private clinics and hospitals lack medical equipment and supplies. The economic crisis created “crippling effects” on the Venezuelans. Millions of people left the country. When Venezuelans were asked the reasons behind their migration, they would often mention the deterioration of economic and social conditions, shortage of services and goods, and insecurity.
|Many of these refugees and migrants are fleeing from their collapsing economy. / Photo by luzitanija via 123rf|
This is why during the recent two-day conference in Brussels, Stein mentioned how the crisis in Venezuela is already on an “immense scale.” Many of these refugees and migrants are fleeing from their collapsing economy. As a result, it increases the level of xenophobia in other Latin American countries that are taking them in. Stein was referring xenophobia as prejudice against people from other countries. Some governments have even tightened their entry requirements, he added.
Sadly, the refugee crisis is driving some migrants “underground,” where they become prey to exploitation and sexual violence.
Representatives from Latin America, EU, and UN Nations, as well as other aid organizations, have participated in the International Solidarity Conference on the Venezuelan Refugee and Migrant Crisis. The purpose of the event was to boost the awareness of the public about the certain needs currently faced by some countries, report international news platform France 24.
The daily also reported that a possible donor’s conference may be initiated to gather money that will be of use in addressing the refugee crisis. Countries that are on the frontline of Venezuelan immigration are Brazil, with 212,000 Venezuelan immigrants, Ecuador (330,000), Chile (371,000), Peru (860,000), and Columbia (1.4 million).
Carlos Holmes Trujillo, the Foreign Minister of Columbia, said that the huge number of Venezuelans in their country meant a bigger demand for health treatment, education services and assistance, and services for kids, too. He believes that the crisis is already on an immense scale. Considering the numbers, it already comes second after the Syria crisis. In terms of growth rate in the number of people migrating, Venezuela would be first, Trujillo added.
The conference has also acknowledged that the deteriorating and serious political, socio-economic, and human rights crisis in Venezuela has led to severe displacements in other countries. It likewise recommended the solidarity of other countries.
Participants of the event have also reaffirmed the role of the platform led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a UN program with a mandate to protect the refugees, stateless people, and forcibly displaced communities, as a way to respond to the crisis. The Conference has expressed its support to hold its first meeting called Group of Friends of the Quito Process with additional pledges and appreciation. Said Quito Process will be made up of donor countries.
According to data provided by the World Bank and the UNHCR, the refugee population of Venezuela continues to increase as the years pass. Last year, there are 2,097,993 people ages 65 and above who are a part of the refugee population as compared to the 2,040,777 in 2017 and 1,982,873 in 2016.
Refugee population of other countries in 2018 were also highlighted by the World Bank and the UNHCR, including Afghanistan (2,681,269), Bahrain (543), Columbia (138,586), Cuba (5,488), El Salvador (32,564), Germany (71), Iran (129,940), Libya (13,874), and Rwanda (247,481). UNHCR also shared the top refugee-hosting countries, including Germany, Sudan, Uganda, Pakistan, and Turkey.
The refugee crisis in Venezuela only shows that governments, even of other countries, have a duty to help the refugees. It should not be viewed as somebody else’s problem. Important solutions to solve the crisis include opening up a safe path to the sanctuary and resettling the refugees. World leaders should also realize the value of saving lives and that no one should die while crossing their border, whether they travel by land or sea.