The city of tents where the migrants, many of them families, are a product of the massive exodus of Venezuelans fleeing their country’s collapsed economy, violence and political tensions between the authoritarian government of President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition.
More than 2.3 million refugees, around 7% of the country’s population, has fled the country in the wake of crisis.
Those migrants have landed all over, not South America, but the world. But Colombia, Venezuela’s neighbor, has absorbed the brunt of the refugee crisis. According to the national government, around 1 million Venezuelans have settled in Colombia over the past two years.
Along the border in cities like Cucuta and in bigger municipalities like Bogota and Medellin, Venezuelan refugees often sleep on the streets. To get work some sell gum, others work in informal jobs cutting hair or selling crops and others work in the sex industry.
I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the Colombian people, because it is very uncomfortable for them too to have so many Venezuelans here. But please, comprehend us.
Venezuelan refugee via El Tiempo
Colombia’s government and aid organizations have been largely unable to provide for the mass migration of people seeking jobs, food and shelter in big cities.
In the growing encampment of refugees settled in Bogota, many migrants have found a community in which to find aid and food. Now police officers in the city of Bogota are moving migrants sleeping on the streets, according to the Al Jazeera report.
Government officials plan to evicts the migrants, moving some to shelters and leaving others to fend for themselves. But parts of process may be delayed to keep peace in a situation that has brought tension between officials and migrants in the city.
However, as the immigration crisis continues to worse, Colombia and its refugees may see aid soon.
As a response to requests by Colombia President Ivan Duque, the United Nations agreed to set up a fund to help Colombia and other neighboring countries deal with displaced Venezuelans.
“We need the world to understand that there must be a global response to the humanitarian and migratory crisis caused by the Venezuelan dictatorship,” Duque said.