U.N. Official: More Venezuelans Fleeing to Colombia than Africans to Italy at Peak of Migrant Crisis

TOPSHOT - Venezuelan citizens cross the Simon Bolivar international bridge from San Antonio del Tachira in Venezuela to Norte de Santander province of Colombia on February 10, 2018. Oil-rich and once one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America, Venezuela now faces economic collapse and widespread popular protest. / AFP …
GEORGE CASTELLANOS/AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, DC — Colombia is receiving more refugees from Venezuela each month than Italy did from the Middle East and Africa when the European migrant crisis, dubbed the worst refugee calamity since World War II, reached its pinnacle, a United Nations official asserted Monday.

Chiara Cardoletti, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) deputy regional representative for the United States and the Caribbean, also said of the oppressive regime of dictator Nicolás Maduro:

Venezuela continues to host a significant number of refugees, and we continue to be grateful to the government for maintaining that space for refugees. And so we continue to maintain a respectful dialogue with the government of Venezuela maintaining always that for us, as a humanitarian agency with a particular legal mandate, our primary responsibility is to make sure that the Venezuelan people find protection and safety wherever they go.

Her comments came during a discussion on people fleeing social and economic upheaval in Venezuela prompted by the country’s socialist policies. The Atlantic Council think-tank hosted the event on Monday.

Cardoletti indicated that the situation in South America is worse than the situation during the peak of the influx of tens of thousands of migrants, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, into Europe.

“At the height of the European crisis, Italy was receiving, in an entire year, 180,000 people. Colombia is currently receiving every month 130,000 [Venezuelans],” Cardoletti declared, later adding, “4,000 to 6,000 people a day are leaving [Venezuela]. So the number of people leaving is quite significant, and of course, we are very concerned.”

“Our main responsibility is to help governments take in the Venezuelans,” she stressed.

She noted that, while various European countries came together to help Italy share the social and economic burden linked to taking in refugees, Colombia is getting minimal help with the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis knocking at its border, adding:

Colombia is receiving, as I said, 130,000 people, more or less, every month and it’s doing it roughly on its own. It’s opening up their community and their services to Venezuela. The same situation is found in Brazil, Peru, and Chile in many of the countries including in the southern Caribbean and I think overall this is something that is very remarkable it’s an incredible show of solidarity of the continent.

Diego Beltrand, the South America regional director for the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), who also participated in Monday’s discussion, noted that the number of Venezuelans who have fled to neighboring countries in South America has skyrocketed, from 90,000 in 2010 to 900,000 now.

Cardoletti acknowledged that the United States is helping the Venezuelan migration crisis.

She said that in the United States, “Venezuelans have surpassed Chinese for the first time in history in terms of asylums and as far as we know and as far as we have seen … the asylum system [under U.S. President Donald Trump] is open and ready to receive the Venezuelans asylum seekers.”

According to the most recent U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) figures, the United States granted asylum to 1,112 alleged Venezuelans between 2014 and 2016.

During that period, DHS apprehended 650 Venezuelans trying to sneak into the United States.

Joseph Humire, the executive director for the Center for a Secure Free Society (CFS), who specializes on Shiite Hezbollah activities in Latin America, warned that some members of the Iran-linked narco-terrorists could infiltrate the United States as Venezuelan refugees using identity documents provided by the South American country’s regime.

He noted that the real victims of the identity scam perpetrated by the Maduro regime are the refugees.

Michael Fitzpatrick, the deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State (DOS), told Breitbart News after Monday’s Atlantic Council event that the Trump administration “is concerned” about Hezbollah’s activities in Venezuela.

“We remain concerned about Hizballah’s involvement in a range of destabilizing activities around the world, including in Latin America,” a DOS spokesperson elaborated, later adding:

Hizballah also receives funding from supporters around the world who engage in a host of licit and illicit activities, including drug trafficking and money laundering, some of which takes place in the Western Hemisphere.

We are concerned about any Hizballah-linked activity in Latin America, including caching of materials and fund-raising that benefits the group through licit and illicit activities and solicitation of donations.

The Trump administration has sanctioned Venezuela’s Hezbollah-affiliated Vice President Tareck El Aissami as a drug kingpin.

During Monday’s event, Fitzpatrick noted that the Trump administration is “ramping up” humanitarian assistance to Venezuela, pointing out that such aid is not going through the Maduro government.

He said:

Since March, we’ve extended another $18 million in assistance to Venezuelans who are either in [the] country still, if possible, but to a great extent to countries who are helping receive an extraordinary number of migrants, particularly Brazil and Colombia … Another 9 or 10 countries are also receiving [U.S.] assistance.

He conceded that the United States is working with the U.N. to deliver the aid.

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