The refugee crisis in Venezuela is striking because there is no war in the country, like there is in Ukraine, where the ongoing conflict is pushing people out of the country.
“The United Nations has confirmed that the number of displaced Venezuelans has reached 6.8 million, linked to the world’s largest refugee and migrant crisis, along with Ukraine, and surpassed Syria for the first time,” said Rachel Schmidtke, Senior Latin America Attorney at Refugees International, in a statement. statement.
But “although the number of Venezuelans and Ukrainians forced to leave their homes is now about the same, there is no international reaction,” Schmidtke added.
“This year, donors funded only 13 percent of the humanitarian response plan for Venezuelans, while the response plan for Ukraine received almost five times more support,” she said.
Authorities can return migrants under the Trump-era pandemic rule known as Section 42, but it doesn’t apply to everyone. The public health authority allows border services to quickly remove migrants to Mexico, but there are restrictions under which nationality can be returned.
This, combined with cold relations with countries like Venezuela, prevents the US from expelling certain people, meaning they can be released while going through immigration procedures.
Administration officials have been tracking a rise in the number of migrants in the region for months. Many northbound migrants worked in the informal sector before the Covid-19 pandemic and were particularly vulnerable to extreme poverty as the economy contracted, while others fled violence and political instability.
On their way to the US, migrants often pass through a dangerous jungle known as the Darien Pass, which crosses the borders of Panama and Colombia.
A Venezuelan family who spoke to CNN after arriving in Washington on Wednesday called the journey through the Darien Pass treacherous but said they fled to the United States for safety and work.