More than three million Venezuelans are now thought to be living abroad, amid one of the largest mass migrations in the recent history of the Western Hemisphere, the United Nations reported Thursday.
Venezuela has been staggering under falling oil prices, corruption, mismanagement and international sanctions aimed at the regime of President Nicolás Maduro that have exacerbated hyperinflation and food and medicine shortages in the country.
The mass movement of Venezuelans has caught many nations off guard and rattled the region. Colombia, Perú and others say they need more international help to deal with the crisis.
According to new data, about 2.4 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees live in Latin America and the Caribbean, while the rest are spread throughout the world, UNHCR and IOM, the UN’s refugee and migration agencies, said.
“Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have largely maintained a commendable open-door policy to refugees and migrants from Venezuela,” Eduardo Stein, UNHCR-IOM Joint Special Representative for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela, said in a statement. “However, their reception capacity is severely strained, requiring a more robust and immediate response from the international community if this generosity and solidarity are to continue.”
Venezuela’s neighbor to the West, Colombia, has received the most migrants — more than one million this year alone. It is followed by Perú, with more than half a million and Ecuador with more than 220,000. Other countries have seen upticks as well: Argentina with 130,000, Chile with at least 100,000, Panama with 94,000 and Brazil with 85,000.
The World Bank and others have said conditions in Venezuela are unlikely to change soon and that the region should prepare for more migrants.