MORE than 4.5 million Venezuelans have fled the country because of its ongoing humanitarian crisis, the UN has reported.
The UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched a $1.35-billion appeal to meet the needs of refugees in South America this month. The World Food Programme (WFP) said last week that it needed $200 million to help the growing number of people who were leaving Venezuela.
The joint UNHCR-IOM special representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants, Eduardo Stein, said earlier this month: “Only through a co-ordinated and harmonised approach will it be possible to effectively address the large-scale needs, which continue to increase and evolve as the current crisis deepens.”
Venezuela remains in an economic crisis, and people are affected by high levels of inflation (News, 15 February).
Mr Stein said: “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 organisations responding to the crisis.”
A spokesman for the WFP, Hervé Verhoosel, said last week: “Some of the families who don’t have money, especially if women are the head of the family . . . will basically do whatever is possible to have either food, or money to buy food.”
Nearly 1.5 million of the refugees from Venezuela live in Colombia, and 385,000 in Ecuador.
More than 56,000 refugees have fled to the islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, the nearest of which is 20 miles off the coast of Venezuela.
Roman Catholic aid organisations, such as Caritas, are involved in the effort to look after the refugees who have landed on the islands.