Ombudsman officials from Colombia’s states bordering Venezuela have been put on permanent alert after the mass deportation of Colombian citizens from the neighboring country.
812 Colombian citizens have been expelled from Venezuela in the first three months of this year, according to official reports. The last case of mass deportation was on Monday, when Venezuelan authorities ejected 22 Colombians from their country.
“To date we have reported a total of 812 deported citizens of which 523 have joined the department of North Santander, mainly in the city of Cucuta. Of these, it should be noted that 503 have received humanitarian support from the officials of the Ombudsman as a situation of mass deportation,” informed the Colombian Ombudsman in a press conference.
Two significant mass deportations have been reported where the border of Venezuela meets the department of Arauca. The first one took place between 3 and 4 March with the ejection of 111 citizens, while the second saw 114 Colombians deported between March 5 and 6.
Amongst the reported deportation cases is that of a 55-year-old Colombian man who has lived in Venezuela for almost 30 years. He was forced to leave his wife and children in the country while he was ejected.
“There are especially stand out cases of family separation. Colombians, who after living for almost 30 years in Venezuela, have been deported and separated from their children and spouses,” said the Ombudsman.
The institution also revealed that they have received information about alleged mistreatment by the Venezuelan authorities.
“Citizens have reported being abused by the Venezuelan authorities, being forced to walk for several hours without receiving food or water,” the official stated.
While the Colombian department of Arauca can specifically report a total ingestion of 289 deported citizens from Venezuela, the region of La Guajira has no accurate record of figures due to the absence of a migration office that would attend to the situation.
Venezuela is going through a period of increased political and economic tension, which has led government officials, including the leftist President Nicolas Maduro, to imply that Colombian right-wing armed groups are trying to destabilize the country.