World: How many Venezuelans have crossed the border? Colombia is counting - - PressFrom - US
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World How many Venezuelans have crossed the border? Colombia is counting

01:55  07 april  2018
01:55  07 april  2018 Source:   miamiherald.com

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Tens of thousands of Venezuelans crossed the border into Colombia on Sunday to hunt for food and medicine that are in short supply at home. How do you count those who fear being counted ? Colombia has given more than 155,000 Venezuelans temporary residency, but it is also stepping up

Colombia is counting . @MiamiHerald @ACNURamericas @OIMColombia. 10. Grey Cross Studios 16d ago. How many Venezuelans have crossed the Tens of thousands of Venezuelans crossed the border into Colombia on Sunday to hunt for food and medicine that are in short supply at home.

People from Venezuela stands in line at the foundation 'Posada el Peregrino' for a red mark for lunch in Bucaramanga, Colombia, February 7, 2018. The Posada offers affordable meals for migrants. They used to cook around 150 meals per day, but nowadays the prepare around 400.© Natalia Ortiz Mantilla/DPA/Abaca Press/TNS People from Venezuela stands in line at the foundation 'Posada el Peregrino' for a red mark for lunch in Bucaramanga, Colombia, February 7, 2018. The Posada offers affordable meals for migrants. They used to cook around 150 meals per day, but nowadays the prepare around 400.

BOGOTA, Colombia — How do you count those who fear being counted?

Colombia on Friday began a national census of Venezuelans living here illegally, vowing that it won't use the information to punish or deport them.

Facing an influx of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans fleeing their country's economic collapse and rampant violence under President Nicolas Maduro, Colombian immigration officials said that some 600,000 to 800,000 Venezuelans may have moved here in recent years. But nobody really knows for sure.

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Colombia says the number of Venezuelans fleeing a severe economic crisis to live in Colombia has increased by 62% in the last six months. Migration officials say more than 550,000 Venezuelans are now living in Colombia , mostly illegally. The influx is putting pressure on the government especially in

"What we do know is that about 40,000 (Venezuelans) enter and exit the country daily," said Felipe Munoz, who is overseeing the census for the government. "But many of them enter the country irregularly, and so immigration has no records for them."

Colombia and Venezuela share a porous, 1,380-mile border that is laced with dozens, if not hundreds, of illegal crossing points. And as passports in Venezuela have become difficult to obtain, many Venezuelans are forced to use those illicit trails as they seek refuge in Colombia or other parts of Latin America.

Colombia has given more than 155,000 Venezuelans temporary residency, but it is also stepping up deportation efforts for those who entered illegally.

It's not just a Colombian problem. Chile, Peru, Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil have also seen record numbers of arrivals from Venezuela, as more than 1 million people have emigrated from the once wealthy South American country in the last few years.

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Venezuelan immigrants have flooded across the Colombian border , fleeing rampant hyperinflation As Venezuelans flee into Colombia to escape their country’s collapsing economy, a grim Torrealba is among more than 1 million Venezuelans who crossed into Colombia fleeing widespread food and

Media captionThe moment Venezuelan troops crashed through border into Colombia . In a separate development, Venezuelan troops have fired tear gas at people looking to cross into Colombia to work. President Nicolás Maduro said the border with Colombia is partly closed to stop aid being

Asked how he would encourage people who are potentially facing expulsion to step out of the shadows, Munoz said the presidential decree ordering the census explicitly prohibits the information from being handed over to immigration.

And while the United Nations, Colombian aid agencies and a host of other partners are participating in the plan, the immigration department is purposefully excluded, he said.

Munoz said Venezuelans also need to look at Colombia's track record: This year alone, the country has provided emergency medical services to more than 18,000 Venezuelans, is providing free education to more than 30,000 Venezuelan children and has vaccinated more than 116,000 — all without asking them about their legal status.

"The Colombian government has been very generous with Venezuelans," he said.

The census is reminiscent of the U.S. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, that registered about 800,000 undocumented migrants who arrived in the United States as children. When they signed up for the program under the Obama administration, they were exempted from deportation. Since then, President Donald Trump has said he will phase out the program, which currently protects about 690,000 people.

Colombia is emphasizing that those who register are not guaranteed special immigration protection.

.Jozef Merck, the Colombia representative for the United Nations Refugee Agency, or UNHCR, said the Colombian census might be one of the largest such efforts ever attempted, and said it would be key to providing aid to people who are increasingly vulnerable.

"We are trying to help the Venezuelan population because the majority of them didn't come here voluntarily; they were forced to leave their country," he said. UNHCR in recent weeks has asked Latin American nations to view Venezuelan exiles as people in need of humanitarian protection — and not mere economic migrants.

Colombia has opened up 523 registration points — most of them along the border with Venezuela — and will continue the registration through June 8.

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