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Colombia grants legal status and labor rights to approximately 1 million Venezuelan migrants

Venezuelans will be processed in 2020 and will wait at the Colombian border to be housed in tents. All Venezuelans currently in Colombia receive a 10-year residence permit. Schneider Mendoza / AFP Colombia via Getty Images will grant legal status to all Venezuelan migrants who have fled to Venezuela to escape the country’s economic collapse and political crisis since 2016. A bold new policy to give nearly one million undocumented migrants a decade of legal employment, health care, education and Colombian banking services is driven by both sympathy and pragmatism. That’s what Colombian President Ivan Duque said. “They will probably stay for more than 10 years,” Duquet told NPR on March 3, 2021. “So … it’s better to give them the opportunity to contribute to the Colombian economy.” Venezuela’s arrival in Colombia is not limited to refugee camps, so they live scattered throughout the country. It was difficult to document and absorb so many migrants, often arriving on foot, with only a handful of personal belongings and no valid ID. Even rich countries like the United States struggle to handle mass migration. But in a sense, Colombia is not a stranger to political conflicts and evacuation in itself, but is uniquely prepared for this immigration crisis. Conflict History Colombia has been blamed for its escape from neighboring Venezuela since 2015. When many other South American countries closed their borders with Venezuela, Colombia provided a series of two-year permits giving about 700,000 Venezuelans the right to work and access to health Venezuelan immigrants In February 2021, we will receive food and medicine from the Red Cross near the border between Colombia and Venezuela. Schneider Mendoza via Getty Images / AFP With a new legalization plan for 1 million additional immigrants, almost all 1.7 million Venezuelans who came to Colombia after 2015 are somehow legal Get a position. It also covers new arrivals that will be legally processed over the next two years. Colombia is not wealthy. But Colombians understand better than many what it means to be kicked out of your home. Since the 1990s, more than 8 million of Colombia’s 50 million people have been displaced by the ongoing civil war. In search of safety and opportunity, at least one million people have moved to neighboring Venezuela. The 2016 government peace agreement with the FARC guerrilla group was subdued, but the violence in Colombia did not end. Because of this history, international organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Program have been operating in Colombia for decades. Today, the United Nations Refugee and International Organization for Migration lead a group of 73 international organizations and institutions, aligning their work with Colombia’s national humanitarian efforts. The group operates in 14 states across Colombia and provides a range of assistance, from distributing COVID-19 hygiene kits to enrolling migrant children in schools. Adaptation of Humanitarian Networks The Colombian government also has about 50 agencies dedicated to helping Colombians displaced by armed conflict. Many are now adapting that experience to help Venezuelan immigrants. Since 2019, we have interviewed more than 12 government officials, lawyers and civil society representatives in two Colombian “counties” that have accepted numerous Venezuelan immigrants, Atlantico and Norte de Santander. I did. This work was part of extensive research on how countries manage large-scale migrations. At Secretariadode Pastoral Social-Cáritas, a religious charity that is part of the Catholic Diocese of Barranquilla, Atlantico, a longtime director said that today’s immigration situation is decades when the Colombian Civil War peaked in the Atlantico region. He said it was very similar to the previous one. People wander, no one knows what to do or where to go. Then they slept in parks and streets, as they do now. “We were already living it in the 90’s,” said the director of Pastoral Social. At that time, the group helped the displaced Colombians by fighting for food and shelter. Currently, many of its clients are in Venezuela. The non-profit Opción Legal – a comprehensive organization that manages the UN refugee program – has a story of similar origin. Initially founded 21 years ago, staff worked in some of Colombia’s most difficult conflict areas, training nonprofits to assist Colombians in refugees in accounting and legal proceedings, among other technical functions. Did. Opción Legal is now offering Venezuelan migrants free legal advice on getting medical care and education in Colombia, among other services. Using a nationwide network of 22 Colombian universities developed over the years, we train students and professors to extend the scope of legal assistance programs to Venezuelan migrants. An informal settlement on the outskirts of Bogotá that houses many Colombians. Getty Images’ Future Trouble with Juancho Torres / Anadolu Agency In 2019, approximately 80 million people (mainly Syrians, Venezuelans, Afghans and South Sudanese) will be criminal, climate change and chronic poverty worldwide. , War, political instability, disaster according to the United Nations – the best ever. Many spend years or decades waiting for a permanent solution, whether it settles locally, returns home, or finds a new country to make a life. I will. Colombia’s new legalization program evaluates that the collapse of Venezuela is a long-term challenge and that it is a better solution to integrate migrants economically and socially than to lock out or expel migrants. It reflects. [You’re smart and curious about the world. So are The Conversation’s authors and editors. You can get our highlights each weekend.] Colombia is internationally acclaimed for its humanitarianism. However, it costs a lot of money to equip hospitals and schools to meet the needs of this rapidly growing and often very deprived population. And most of it must come from the international community, as Colombia does not have the funds to do it alone. Nevertheless, the Venezuelan immigration crisis is a chronically underfunded area of ​​humanitarian activity. The legalization program also runs the risk of fueling Colombia’s anti-immigrant sentiment. Evidence suggests that Venezuelan migrants are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators, although some have blamed increased violence against migrants, especially in border areas. And Colombia still has its own domestic migration problems. Dissident FARC members, other guerrilla groups, drug cartels and rebels have expelled more than 70,865 Colombians last year alone and continue to fight for territory and resources. The Government of Colombia is betting that the United Nations and international organizations will help achieve the ambitious goal of welcoming 1.7 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants. Hopefully that money will also improve government services for all Colombians. Lia Castillo, Liss Romero, and Lydia Sa have researched, documented, and analyzed this article. This article has been republished by The Conversation, a non-profit news site aimed at sharing ideas from academic experts. Author: Erika Frydenlund, Old Dominion University. Jose J. Padilla, Old Dominion University, Catherine Palacio, Norte University. Read more: Latin America keeps out desperate Venezuelans, but Colombia’s borders remain open – so far Venezuelan immigrants face crime, conflict and coronavirus at Colombia’s closed borders I am. None of the views reported in this study are those of the funding organization. Jose J. Padilla is funded by the Navy Research Department through the Minerva Research Initiative. None of the views reported in this study are those of the funding organization. Catherine Palacio is funded as a consultant by the Minerva Research Initiative. None of the views reported in this study are those of the funding organization.

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