Colombia calls for help to face Venezuela migrant surge

Bogota (AFP) –


Colombia lacks the capacity to face by itself a deluge of Venezuelan migrants fleeing their crisis-afflicted country, Bogota's top diplomat said on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo called instead for an international response.

More than 1.6 million Venezuelans have left their homeland since 2015 -- most of them for Colombia -- when economic troubles worsened, according to the United Nations.

Venezuelans suffer from shortages of essential goods including medicines and food, and the International Monetary Fund has predicted inflation in the South American country will reach one million percent this year.

Colombia "cannot deal with this situation alone," Trujillo said.

"We have made important efforts lately and they are going to continue but the extent of the crisis is such that we do not have sufficient capacity to respond" to the migrant flow without support, Trujillo told Caracol Radio.

Among the measures which Colombia's government seeks are: creation of a multilateral emergency fund and naming of a high-level United Nations official to coordinate the actions of Latin American countries.

"It's a problem that affects us particularly but it's a crisis that concerns the whole region, in view of the extent of this influx," the minister added.

Colombia, which shares 2,200 kilometers (1,300 miles) of border with Venezuela, has taken in more than one million people from its neighbor and given most of them temporary resident status.

Latin American countries, which met for the first time last week on the issue, appealed to Caracas to accept humanitarian aid to halt the overwhelming migrant flow that has also left Brazil, Ecuador and Peru creaking under the strain.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez has said her government complained to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that "individual officials" have been portraying "a normal migratory flow as a humanitarian crisis to justify an intervention."