"Historic": Colombia to give temporary protective status to Venezuelan migrants

Shawna Chen
·2 min read

Colombia will provide temporary protective status to undocumented Venezuelan migrants, President Ivan Duque said Monday in a joint announcement with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Why it matters: For years, Colombia has seen an influx of people fleeing economic and political turmoil in Venezuela. More than half of the 1.7 million Venezuelans in Colombia are undocumented.

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Details: The new protections will allow migrants to work legally in Colombia and grant 10-year residence permits.

  • Migrants who entered Colombia before Jan. 31 are eligible, as are migrants who legally enter Colombia during the first two years of the new policy.

  • Migrants who currently have temporary residence status will also be able to extend their stay.

  • Those who do not register under the new status may eventually face deportation.

What they're saying: "We need to take action," Duque said at the press conference, per Reuters. "This process marks a milestone in Colombia’s migration policies."

  • Duque also called on the international community to increase funding to help vaccinate migrants against the coronavirus.

  • The UN's Grandi called Colombia's move an "example to the region and world."

  • "It is a life-changing gesture for the 1.7 million displaced Venezuelans who will now benefit from added protection, security and stability while they are away from home,” Grandi added.

The big picture: The Venezuelan population in Colombia fell more than 2% last year, per Reuters. Tens of thousands returned to Venezuela after the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the informal work sector.

  • Colombian officials believe that many will return, bringing others with them, as the economy recovers, Reuters reported.

  • More than five million people have left Venezuela since 2015 — "one of the largest displacement crisis in the world," according to the United Nations.

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