The Venezuelan crisis has been recorded as the largest after the Syrian crisis, leaving millions of Venezuelans at the mercy of neighbouring countries, UNHCR reports. Despite the overwhelming stretch in its educational and health services, Colombia can be commended for supporting the largest population. More applause should be given to the Colombian government’s Commissioner for the Border, Felipe Muñoz, who recently took a visit to Europe to enlighten the world about the gravity of 2000 Venezuelans who enter Colombia daily. In London, Mr. Muñoz said “There has been a lack of understanding about the magnitude of the crisis. And there has been a lack of awareness that this is a global humanitarian crisis and we need much more support.”
The root cause of this mass exodus is the revolution from the socialist government headed by Nicolás Maduro. Reports from the UN and the International Organization for Migration have confirmed about 13 percent of Venezuela’s population have become refugees. The Financial Times outlined a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Michael O’Hanlon’s predictions as he said: “Even if things do not get that bad, it is easy to imagine scenarios in which 10 million Venezuelans become refugees.” On the contrary, at the UN General Assembly last year, Mr. Maduro claimed: “Venezuela is the victim of world media attacks designed to construct a supposed humanitarian crisis to justify a military intervention”. Colombia has taken in the largest number of 1.4 m Venezuelans, while Peru and Ecuador host the next biggest populations with 861,000 and 330,000 respectively, with another 288,000 in Chile and 179,000 in Brazil. The number of refugees hosted by some Caribbean nations is uncertain, but since Ecuador and Peru effectively closed their doors this summer, Bogotá is feeling the strain. Comparatively, the Colombian government said that donors have contributed about $5,000 towards the costs of support of each Syrian refugee since that country’s crisis began, but only $193 per Venezuelan in Colombia. The World Bank confirmed by estimating this year that the annual cost to Colombia of hosting the Venezuelan migrants, not including infrastructure and facilities, was about 0.4 percent of GDP. Exceptionally, Colombia offers free education to the children of Venezuelan migrants, which costs $160m annually, Mr. Muñoz remarked. Many refugees arrive in poor health needing urgent medical treatment. A report this year by Human Rights Watch and the Johns Hopkins University said that cases of malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/Aids and hepatitis had all increased sharply in the border area.
Maduro’s government needs to promulgate genuine and acceptance policies that can permit these Venezuelans to return to their country. Hostility and instability should be tamed, and in the main time, all countries, especially non-refugee hosting countries, should chip in financially to support these huge amounts of refugees. Global humanitarian issues imply global burdens that should be borne by the entire international community.