Colombia and Brazil are struggling to help the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan refugees crossing their borders. Some officials believe that more than one million refugees have entered Colombia from Venezuela since the start of the Venezuela’s current economic crisis.
The situation in South America is beginning to resemble the Syrian refugee crisis. The United Nations estimates that there are currently 5.5 million Syrian Refugees, whereas there are about 4 million Venezuelan refugees. Some people expect that number to increase—and eventually surpass—the number of Syrian Refugees. In fact, this crisis affects every South American country.
Just as people all around the world wanted to help the Syrian refugees, they also want to help the Venezuelan refugees. Unfortunately, the Venezuelan government has not been very willing to receive humanitarian aid from other countries, even though the people badly need help in many ways. For example, because of widespread malnourishment three quarters of Venezuelans have involuntarily dropped almost 20 pounds. For people and humanitarian organizations that want to provide aid, the best time to help is after they cross the Venezuelan border.
What do Venezuelans need when they cross the border? They need a lot. They need food, which is something the Catholic Church has been helping with as they feed huge numbers of people through food kitchens. They need jobs. The economy is so bad in Venezuela that people are leaving jobs that were once seen as steady and reputable for jobs singing on the street or even smuggling goods across the border. They need medicine and vaccines. One mother traveled 12 hours on a bus to get to Colombia to receive vaccinations for her young daughter, only to arrive and find a line of women already waiting for the same thing.
As Dany Bahar from the Brookings Institute has explained, International Organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations must step up to the plate. Individual countries in South America can’t help the refugees sufficiently on their own. If we don’t want the Syrian Refugee Crisis to happen again, we should do something about it.
Some officials believe that over 1 million Venezuelans have entered Colombia since the economic crisis took hold in 2015:
Smuggling, vaccinations, different from Syrian Crisis:
5.5 Million Syrian Refugees, 4 Million Venezuelan Refugees:
Dany Bahar, Brookings:
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