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3 million people flee Venezuela: UNHCR

November 8, 2018

People continue to leave the troubled Latin-American country as the economic situation turns increasingly sour. Food shortages have become a part of everyday life.

Venezuelan migrants fleeing towards Colombia
Image: Reuters/C. Garcia Rawlins

The number of migrants and refugees who have fled Venezuela has reached 3 million, the United Nations announced on Thursday.

According to figures collected by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and the UN migration agency, IOM, over 2.4 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees are being hosted by countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Data from national immigration authorities shows that Colombia welcomed the highest numbers of people — for a total of more than 1 million.

Other countries in the region, such as Peru, Ecuador and Argentina, are also hosting hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees.

"Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have largely maintained a commendable open-door policy," said Eduardo Stein, UNHCR-IOM Joint Special Representative in a statement. 

Read more: Multilateral approach needed to contain Venezuela's refugee crisis, experts warn

The rising number of people fleeing Venezuela is taking a toll on its neighboring countries, with increased needs both for the refugees and for the communities who host them.

The reception capacity of these countries "is severely strained," Stein said. The UN is calling on the international community to support a humanitarian response to the crisis.

Read more: Venezuela creates migration police to strengthen border controls

Why so many are fleeing the country

Venezuela is facing a severe financial crisis, which worsened under the leadership of President Nicolas Maduro.

The country's oil-based economy has suffered from a drop in global oil prices and political and financial mismanagement.

The crisis has led to record levels of hyperinflation. With soaring prices of everyday items, food and medicine shortages have become common across the country.

According to data released this week by Venezuela's parliament, the annual inflation rate has almost doubled in the last year.