(CNN Spanish) — Venezuela and Colombia share 2,341 kilometers of border, through which people and goods have always transited. But the current situation is unprecedented in modern times: about 2.5 million Venezuelans are now living in the neighboring country.
There are 6.8 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants around the world, of which some 5.7 million are in Latin America, according to the platform R4V, the Regional Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela, led jointly by UNHCR and IOM. This global figure equals that of Ukrainian refugees and exceeds that of Syrians, according to the UN.
Colombia is the country to which the most Venezuelans have arrived: by February 2022, according to Colombia Migration, the figure rose to about 2.5 million. Behind Colombia and a long way behind is Peru, where according to official numbers there are about 1.3 million. And in third place is Ecuador, which is home to some 500,000 citizens of Venezuelan nationality.
Bogotá, home to half a million Venezuelans
The distribution within the territory of Colombia is very uneven.
About 20% of the Venezuelans who emigrated to Colombia, some 500,000, are in Bogotá. In other words, the same amount that is found in an entire country, Ecuador, is in the capital of neighboring Colombia.
In numbers, they are followed by the departments of Antioquia (approximately 344,000), Norte de Santander (254,000), Valle del Cauca (193,000) and Atlántico (175,000), according to figures from Migración Colombia updated to February of this year.
Vaupés and the islands of San Andrés and Providencia are at the opposite extreme: only 15 and 97 Venezuelans are registered there, respectively. They are followed by the department of Amazonas, where they number around 300.
Generally speaking, the north is where there is a higher concentration of Venezuelan immigrants, while the southeast is where there are fewer.
Another department that is not at either end of the lists but has had notable movement is Arauca. The violence in the Venezuelan state of Apure, reports R4V, caused some 6,000 refugees and migrants to cross into Arauca as of March. Most returned to their country of origin but “the border area continued to be unstable, with a dynamic of continuous displacement.”
What is the situation of Venezuelan immigrants in Colombia?
Of the 5.7 million Venezuelans who are in Colombia, there are 1.2 million who are in the process of obtaining Temporary Protection Status, a measure implemented by the Government of Iván Duque that aims to regularize immigrants from the neighboring country for up to 10 years and that allows them to work legally in the country, attend to the health system and access justice, among other basic rights.
There are about 334,000 regularized Venezuelans, about 617,000 authorized and about 295,000 irregular.
There is a clearly marked age profile: the largest influx to Colombia was that of Venezuelans between 18 and 29 years old, followed by those between 30 and 39. In these two categories combined, there are 1.3 million Venezuelans. At the other extreme are those over 70 years of age, who number just 25,000 between men and women.
According to a report by R4V, a platform that coordinates assistance to Venezuelan migrants, by the end of 2021, 24% of Venezuelan households in Colombia who were interviewed for a needs assessment suffered from food insecurity, while 25% consumed water. quality. 36% lived in overcrowded conditions and 31% were at risk of being evicted from their home. The situation faced by children was also precarious: 25%, or one in four, were not attending school.
Access to the labor market is a particularly sensitive point. According to the survey DANE Migration Pulse As of the beginning of 2022, 85% of the Venezuelan population in Colombia had difficulties to have a paid job, a percentage that rises to almost 90% among women.
The situation of Venezuelans residing in the neighboring country could change as of September 26, the date on which the land borders between Colombia and Venezuela will be reopened and international flights connecting Bogotá and Caracas, and Bogotá and Valencia, will resume.
With information from Angela Reyes
Source: CNN Espanol