Monday Sep 30, 2019

The Colombian Response to the Venezuelan Migration Crisis: A Dialogue with Colombia’s Migration Czar

The political and economic unraveling of Venezuela has sparked the flight of more than 4 million people in what now stands as the largest exodus of migrants in the western hemisphere—a number that could exceed 5 million by year’s end. More than 1.4 million Venezuelans have settled in Colombia, which has generously opened its doors.

As the primary destination for Venezuelans, Colombia is providing a variety of legal pathways through temporary programs that allow the new arrivals access to work permits, public services, and protection from possible exploitation. And in September 2018, Colombia joined other countries in adopting the Declaration of Quito on Human Mobility of Venezuelan Citizens in the Region and launched an action plan emphasizing regularization and integration for migrants.

However, Colombia’s capacity to continue to host further arrivals is being stretched amid increasing pressure on public services and local economies, the growing recognition these arrivals will be more than short-term guests, and the strong possibility of additional inflows. Also at play is the slow arrival of international assistance. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has deemed the Venezuelan crisis one of the most underfunded humanitarian appeals in the world.

As the crisis continues to unfold, the Migration Policy Institute and Inter-American Dialogue hosted a conversation--with Felipe Muñoz, Advisor to the President of Colombia for the Colombian-Venezuelan Border; Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, MPI's International Program Associate Director;Michael Camilleri, Director of the Peter D. Bell Rule of Law Program at the Inter-American Dialogue; and MPI's President Andrew Selee--on how Colombia is coping with this influx, plans for future policy decisions, and developments in regional and international cooperation, including with the United States.

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