HAVANA TIMES – The number of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Latin America is expected to rise to 5.4 million by the end of next year, UN agencies said on Friday as they appealed for aid financing, reported dpa news.
There are currently 3.3 million Venezuelans who have left their crisis-hit country, as the exodus has been continuing at an average rate of 5,500 people per day this year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said in Geneva.
“Venezuelans I met during my visits spoke of hunger, lack of access to medical care, insecurity, threats, fear,” said Eduardo Stein, the United Nations’ envoy for the Venezuela migration crisis.
“All of them saw no other option than to leave their country – sometimes walking for days – seeking to live in dignity and to build a future,” he added.
The two agencies and other aid organizations presented a regional crisis response plan for 2019, asking donor countries to fund a budget of 738 million dollars.
Nearly half of the money is earmarked as emergency aid for Venezuelans.
Thirty per cent is dedicated to integrating Venezuelans in their host countries, as the aid organizations expect that it will take years until they can return home.
The rest of the money is for aiding overstretched host communities and for protecting migrants, who are at risk of human trafficking and sexual exploitation along their journeys.
Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are among the major destinations.
Venezuela has been suffering from a severe economic crisis, leading to food and medicine shortages.