The United States is pledging to give Colombia $6 million in aid to help manage the growing number of Venezuelan refugees who are fleeing economic and social turmoil, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced Monday.
This is in addition to the $16 million already pledged to aid Venezuelan refugees in Colombia and Brazil. The Trump administration has provided at least $56 million in humanitarian and economic aid since 2017 to help deal with the refugee crisis, according to the Miami Herald.
The $6 million will be distributed to nutrition and health programs through the World Food Program and local partners.
USAID Administrator Mark Green spoke in the Columbian border city of Cucuta, calling it the “front lines of one of the largest displacements of people in the history of Latin America.”
“They are fleeing hunger, lack of medicine and lack of opportunities,” he said to the Miami Herald. “And fundamentally, they are fleeing … a despotic and dysfunctional regime.”
About 70,000 Venezuelans cross the Colombian border every day in Cucata and there are over a million Venezuelans in Colombia alone. These Venezuelans have strained Colombia’s health care system and other social services while more than 400,000 Venezuelans do not have proper documentation, according to the Miami Herald.
In addition to this, hundreds of Venezuelan children are being abandoned or turned into the Colombian government’s custody, with others are living in poverty and even being exploited for sex work, according to The Associated Press.
Venezuela has been facing an economic crisis for years, with the world’s worst inflation and facing shortages of basic necessities, such as food and medicine with Reuters reporting that Venezuela’s annual inflation exceeded 46,000 percent. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) claimed that Venezuela was in “economic collapse” on Monday.
“It’s very hard to exaggerate the extent of disruption in the Venezuelan economy,” IMF Chief Economist Maurice Obstfeld said, according to Voice of America.
Obstfeld also highlighted the impact of the Venezuelans fleeing on Venezuela’s neighbor’s economies, saying that there’s a “huge challenge” to “absorb” them.
“Just as in other parts of the world there is a huge challenge to absorb these migrants,” he said.
The economic collapse and the mass exodus has largely been downplayed by the Venezuelan government, which has continued to blame the U.S. for its economic failures. The U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela in May due to “sham” elections, according to The Daily Caller.
Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, but due to government corruption and failed economic policies, the country has not been able to achieve positive economic growth in recent years, according to The Heritage Foundation.
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