Venezuelan labor leader Jose Rozo Lizcano calls for Colombia to pay compensation for the large number of refugees that pour over the border into Venezuela.
Lizcano, who is the head of Venezuelan Federation of Trade and Industry Chambers (Fedecamaras) in border state Tachira, says that the immigrants place a social and economic burden on the government. He warned that situations with many displaced people can become breeding grounds for drug and people trafficking, prostitution, smuggling, and other crimes.
Speaking at a conference in Tachira, the labor leader said that “this social burden cannot continue to be put only on the Venezuelan state, there must be a sacrifice and a joint contribution by Colombia, along with the United Nations and international organizations.”
Lizcano said he had asked the Venezuelan government to address the issue of refugees in its talks with Colombia over restoring bilateral relations, and said that Ecuador, which has 200,000 displaced Colombians, is making similar proposals.
Colombia has an estimated 3 million internally displaced people, who have been forced from their homes by violence but remain within the country’s borders.
Many thousands more have fled to Ecuador or Venezuela to escape the country’s armed conflict. More than 180,000 Colombians have arrived in the country since 2002, according to UNHCR.
In June the UNHCR praised Venezuela’s treatment of Colombian refugees, with the body’s representative in the country saying that he senses “no resentment, xenophobia or threats against Colombians.”