Colombia’s President Ivan Duque said on Monday that his country will grant citizenship to some 24,000 children who were born from Venezuelan migrant mothers.
The measure will be retroactive and allow babies and toddlers born in the country since 2015 to be granted citizenship, a possibility that didn’t exist before.
Because Colombia does not automatically grant citizenship to babies born on its soil and Venezuela’s embassy in Bogota has no authority, the mass migration of Venezuelans led to the rapidly growing problem of stateless children.
Duque said he would issue a presidential decree that would allow the nationalization of the babies and toddlers born in Colombia since the mass migration from the neighboring country began.
The issue was publicly raised in by actress Anngelina Jolie during a visit of the ambassador of the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR in June.
“The Colombian government has been firm in its commitment to rise to the height of ethical responsibility and offer help to the Venezuelans who feel forced to leave their country,” Felipe Muñoz, who manages the Venezuelan migrant crisis for Colombia’s migration authority, told the Washington Post.
“Let’s remember that decades ago it was they who received us Colombians in their country, when the situation was inverse and it was us fleeing difficult local conditions,” Muños added in reference to the mass migration of Colombians to Venezuela during the country’s armed conflict.
According to the UNHCR, some 4 million Venezuelans have fled their country that is suffering a major humanitarian and institutional crisis. Approximately 1.5 million of these refugees settled in Colombia.
The country has tremendous difficulty dealing with the mass migration as it has yet to deal with many of the 8 million people who were internally displaced by the armed conflict.