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OAS Working Group on Venezuelan Migrants Urges Granting Refugee Status and Creation of Regional Identity Card

  June 28, 2019

The Working Group of the Organization of American States (OAS) to Address the Regional Crisis Caused by Venezuela’s Migrant and Refugee Flows presented today a report that analyzes the crisis of Venezuelan migrants and refugees unprecedented in the region.

The conclusions of the report indicate that if the existing problems in Venezuela continue or worsen, "the projection of Venezuelan migrants and refugees could reach between 5.3 and 5.7 million by the end of 2019 and between 7.5 and 8.2 million by the end of 2020." 

The document urges the international community "We call on the entire international community to give a global response to the crisis of Venezuelan migrants and refugees. This should not be considered a regional or much less
sub-regional issue." It also highlights that this crisis of migrants and refugees represents an unprecedented challenge in the region for the member countries of the OAS and the rest of the international community. "Despite the difficulties, the migrant and refugee crisis also creates an immense opportunity to integrate millions who are willing to work, study, and positively impact the countries that receive them.”

“Defining Venezuelans who fled, and continue to flee, their country as refugees will guarantee them permanent protection with the right to identity, access to services such as health and education, and the opportunity to enter the labor markets.” “Today, approximately 2 million Venezuelans are in irregular status or at risk of being so in the short term," cites the report, which also calls for the creation of a regional identity card so that Venezuelans can move from one country to another without major restrictions.

In the presentation, which took place in the framework of the 49th OAS General Assembly in Medellín, the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, emphasized that "Venezuelans need our help and they need it now. We must implement all possible measures that help mitigate the drama they face. But let's not lose sight of the fact that the exodus has only one cause: the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro. The best solution for the crisis of Venezuelan migrants and refugees is the end of the dictatorship and the redemocratization of Venezuela where the most basic human rights that have been taken from people are restored," he said.

The coordinator of the Working Group, David Smolansky, warned that "at the time of this General Assembly there are 4 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees, the largest migratory flow in the history of the region. It is currently the second largest in the world, second only to Syria, which has endured a war for more than 8 years." He further explained that, given the serious situation, "it is imperative to grant Venezuelans refugee status at the regional level, according to the Cartagena Declaration."

According to the data presented, the majority of Venezuelan migrants and refugees are in:

  • Colombia (1.3 million),
  • Peru (768,100),
  • Chile (288,200),
  • Ecuador (263,000),
  • Brazil (168,300),
  • Argentina (130,000),
  • Panama (94,400),
  • Trinidad and Tobago (40,000),
  • Mexico (39,500),
  • Guyana (36,400),

The report covers issues such as the country's health crisis, food insecurity, the violation of human rights, the persecution and repression, the collapse of public services, the status of Venezuelans in Latin America and the Caribbean, the prima facie recognition of Venezuelan refugees, international cooperation, and the financial challenges facing the international community in order to adequately respond to the migratory flow.

Reference: E-048/19