Colombia will need $740M in aid to deal with Venezuelan migrants in 2020

A Venezuelan boy and his mother walk to the Ecuadorean border. (Image: Foreign Ministry)

Colombia’s government will need $740 million in order to deal with mass migration from Venezuela in 2020, according to the United Nations’ refugee agency UNHCR.

This is more than half of the $1.35 billion the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are seeking in order to provide aid to Venezuelans in all of Latin America next year.

At a press conference in Bogota, the special representative of the UNHCR/IOM, Eduardo Stein, said that “only through a coordinated and harmonized approach will it be possible to effectively address the large-scale needs, which continue to increase and evolve as the current crisis deepens.”

Colombia’s outgoing Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo said that since 2015 his country has received almost 1.5 million Venezuelans and another 500,000 Colombians who were living in Venezuela.

According to the UNHCR/OIM, Colombia is expected to be housing as many as 2.4 million Venezuelans by the end of 2020, 44% of Latin America’s total.

Another 2 million Venezuelans are expected to be going in and out the country to seek food supplies or healthcare.

In order to provide healthcare alone, Colombia will need an estimated $192 million next year. Another $167 million would be needed to provide food.

In order to obtain the funds necessary to provide the necessary aid to the growing Venezuelan diaspora, Stein and Trujillo presented a regional response plan that seeks to increase foreign contributions and a coordinated distribution of funds.

Despite many efforts and other initiatives, the dimension of the problem is greater than the current response capacity, so it is necessary that the international community doubles these efforts and contributions to help the countries and international organizations responding to the crisis.

UNHCR/IOM Special Representative Eduardo Stein

Aid from outside the region has been a fraction of what is needed, Trujillo said in August in a previous call for help.

The mass migration from oil-rich Venezuela began in 2015 after a collapse in commodity prices. On some days, tens of thousands of people have crossed the border, often illegally in an attempt to flee the food and medicine shortages in the neighboring country.

The government’s lack of capacity to help Venezuelans is leading to growing resistance in Colombia, which was already failing to attend approximately 7.5 million people who were internally displaced because of the country’s armed conflict.

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