The Working Group of the Organization of American States (OAS) on the Crisis of Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees in the Region today published a report in which it warns that, if borders are reopened and the crisis in the country deepens, the exodus of Venezuelans could reach seven million people in the first quarter of 2022, making it the largest in the world, greater than that of Syria.
“The data that we are publishing in this report is an update of the Venezuelan migrant and refugee crisis, which to date with more than 5.6 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees is the largest exile crisis in the history of the region,” said David Smolansky, Coordinator of the OAS Working Group for the Crisis of Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees in the Region.
The report indicates that the number of Venezuelan migrants and refugees exceeds the total population of countries such as Costa Rica, Panama, Norway or Ireland, among others.
The report also highlights that there are Venezuelan migrants and refugees, known as “walkers,” who have traveled more than 3,500 kilometers on foot, often barefoot. “Walking from Cúcuta, in Colombia, to Lima, Peru, as many have done, is equivalent to walking from Madrid to Helsinki or from New York to Salt Lake City,” the report adds.
The Working Group has collected more than 600 testimonies from Venezuelan migrants and refugees who say they have been forced to flee their country for essentially five reasons:
• The complex humanitarian emergency.
• Systematic violations of human rights.
• Collapse of basic services.
• High cost of living.
The report maintains that, despite the fact that the borders are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “it is estimated that between 700 and 900 Venezuelans flee their country daily along irregular roads along the borders.”
Likewise, the report highlights that, despite the recent International Conference in solidarity with Venezuelan migrants and refugees, where there were important donations to respond to this emergency situation, “the financing of this crisis is one-tenth of what has been contributed to address the Syrian refugee crisis.” In this sense, the document notes that while aid to Syrian refugees averages $5,000 per person, in the case of Venezuelan refugees it is $480 per capita.