Report: One Venezuelan Migrant Killed Every Day in Colombia

Criminal activity and xenophobic attacks have been cited among the main causes.

By Lucas Koerner and Ricardo Vaz
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Colombia-Venezuela border crossing. (AFP)
Colombia-Venezuela border crossing. (AFP)

Lisbon, August 29, 2019 (venezuelanalysis.com) – A new report by Colombian forensic authorities has revealed that over the course of 2019 an average of one Venezuelan person has been killed every day in Colombia.

Colombia’s Department of Legal Medicine stated Sunday that between January and June of this year 233 Venezuelans have been killed in Colombian territory, including 206 men and 27 women.

The majority of the deaths were caused by gunshots or stabbings and occurred in cities located along Colombia’s 2,219 kilometer border with Venezuela. Homicides claim around 25,000 lives in Colombia annually.

Killings of Venezuelans have been on the rise in recent years, with the figure more than tripling from 30 in 2016 to 93 in 2017, before tripling again to 273 in 2018.

Researchers attributed the spike in murders to a lack of access to employment and social services as well as xenophobia.

“Not creating employment, or access to certain conditions, causes a great many of them [Venezuelans] to become tied up criminal dynamics, but there are also elements of xenophobia in the country that accentuate this,” observed public policy expert Jeisson Camacho.

The report also detailed a total of 19 Venezuelan suicides in the first semester of 2019, or approximately two per month – a dramatic increase over the 69 reported between 2009 and 2018.

Venezuelan migrants have been victims of discrimination and xenophobic attacks in various countries over the past several years. According to the latest United Nations figures, an estimated four million people have left Venezuela since 2015, with most migrating as Venezuela’s economic crisis deepened from mid-2017 following the US imposition of financial sanctions.

Colombia has been the main destination, with migrants crossing on foot. According to Colombian migration authorities, there are now 1.4 million Venezuelans residing in the country.

The Venezuelan-Colombian border crossings were closed in February when the Venezuelan opposition attempted to forced US-coordinated “humanitarian aid” into the country. The border, which was reopened in June, has long been plagued by widespread smuggling as well as paramilitary activity.

While Colombia and several other countries have eased legal requirements on Venezuelan migrants, for example accepting expired passports, Ecuador has recently tightened restrictions on entry.

Ecuadorian authorities will now require a visa from Venezuelans entering the country in addition to reinforcing security at border crossings. Those already in the country will be forced to go through a “regularization process” in order to obtain a two-year “humanitarian visa.” An estimated 300,000 Venezuelans currently reside in Ecuador.

Ricardo Vaz reporting from Lisbon and Lucas Koerner from Philadelphia.

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