The Colombian government has announced it will urge greater international action to resolve the crisis in Venezuela at the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos.
Colombia’s minister of finance, Mauricio Cárdenas, said that he would make an “urgent call” for increased international action as Colombia remains the country “most affected by Venezuela’s ongoing economic crisis.”
“We estimate that there are currently 550,000 Venezuelans or Colombians who were living in Venezuela that are now in our country,” he said, adding that most had come in the past “two to three years.”
“Colombia has adopted a policy of open arms to these migration flows to show solidarity. We have offered urgent medical attention and school places to all Venezuelans,” he continued, “Those who arrive with minors can enroll them in public institutions without any type of restriction or formality.”
However, Cárdenas warned of the mounting cost this is placing on Colombia’s treasury.
“This all comes at a cost, Colombia has assumed that cost,” he continued. “We do not have a specific figure, but we estimate that to date some 90,000 Venezuelans in Colombia have been vaccinated, while 24,000 emergency services have been carried out in Colombian hospitals to Venezuelans, which is paid for by the country’s overall budget.”
Last week, the General Secretary of the United Nations António Guterres claimed that he would “mobilize international support” for additional sanctions against the regime, but did not specify what that would entail.
Migration flows out of Venezuela into Colombia are now reaching historic proportions. Thousands of people are crossing the western border at Cécuta each day. Many people cross simply to access basic resources such as food such as food, medicine, and sanitary products like tampons, toothpaste, and toilet paper, all of which are in chronically short supply under the socialist regime.
Last year, Colombian authorities also confirmed that they were preparing for continued waves of emigration by drawing up plans for refugee camps similar to those house Syrian refugees in Turkey and Lebanon.
As well as an economic and humanitarian crisis that has pushed the Venezuelan monthly minimum wage to under $2 a month, levels of government-sponsored repression and human right abuses have skyrocketed in recent years as the regime of socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro seeks to tighten its authority.
Colombian relations with Venezuela have deteriorated in recent years after leader Juan Manuel Santos offered his full support to international pressure against the Venezuelan regime. Maduro, whose regime stands accused of ties to international drug criminals, has described Santos as “very evil” and accused him of trafficking cocaine.