There has been a mass movement of thousands of Venezuelans back to their economically devastated country since Colombia imposed a nationwide lockdown last month. The mass-migration to countries like Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Chile is set to surpass Syria’s as the biggest migration in the world, yet Venezuelan migrants only receive pennies on the dollar in international aid compared to their Syrian counterparts. More than 76,000 Venezuelans have already crossed the border, and over 24,000 still want to do so, according to Juan Francisco Espinosa, head of Colombia’s migration authority. Special procedures have been put in place for Venezuelans wanting to return home, the agency said in a statement, as it called for migrants to coordinate travel with local authorities. As cases jump across the region, aid providers like Arles Pereda, president of COLVENZ, the Colony of Venezuelans in Colombia nonprofit group, warn that those camps could become hotbeds for contagion. BOGOTA (Reuters) - A large crowd of Venezuelan migrants held up traffic on a Bogota highway on Wednesday, demanding to be allowed to leave Colombia and return to Venezuela, as Colombia’s coronavirus lockdown has crippled their ability to earn to living. “There is a very, very high possibility of an outbreak,” Pereda said. But Venezuela has now limited entries through the main border posts in Cucuta and Arauca to just 1,200 people a week. The return would be too harsh for her baby, Eva, to go through, Gutierrez said. After Colombia officially closed its land border with Venezuela in March to control the spread of the coronavirus, it maintained some humanitarian checkpoints to allow Venezuelans to … 'Living a daily tragedy': Venezuelans struggle to survive in Colombia Driven from their homeland by economic chaos, tens of thousands of people are living a … Gutierrez is among 30,000 Venezuelans that Colombian authorities say are in limbo on the Colombian side of the border. As she sees it, she has no other choice. “We have had a lot of luck because that still has not happened,” he said. Gutierrez takes it one day at time. Like the Okie’s trekking west after the dust-bowl disaster of the Great Depression in the 1920s, these impoverished migrants are fleeing a man-made crisis, in this case the economic collapse of their home country. “How are we going to manage until Friday? Hyperinflation has led to a dramatic drop in living standards and issues with the supply of basic goods, while personal safety, particularly … Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. Venezuela though has a wonderful 6 day trek to Mount Roraima, in the South East of the country. While Colombia was once largely a transit country, regional restrictions and instability will push migrants to increasingly stay on Colombian territory, she said. Around 14,000 have now returned home. Thousands of Venezuelans are searching for a new life in Colombia At 05:00 in the morning, a steady stream of Venezuelans heads into Colombia. We can’t even wash our hands. Sanchez said the pandemic is likely to transform the exodus and leave more migrants like the Gutierrez family vulnerable. Stay on top of Venezuela latest developments on the ground with Al Jazeera’s fact-based news, exclusive video footage, photos and updated maps. Their choice is stay in Colombia and struggle to survive through the lockdown or go home to a situation of uncertainty. Pereda’s organization once provided a safety net to migrants arriving to Medellín. Despite low testing rates, Colombia has reported 150,445 confirmed cases and 5,634 deaths as of July 14. Last updated: 01/20/21 Effective January 26, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel. There is no direct connection from Colombia to Venezuela. As the crisis stretches on, Sanchez said there will be more of an ebb-and-flow from Venezuela as waves of crises strike, turning migration from a one-directional exodus to more of a pendulum of flows between the two countries. If she is lucky, she can scrape together enough money each night for her and her and her 18-month-old daughter to split a hotel room with other Venezuelan families. The Government of Venezuela closes the border crossings between Venezuela and Colombia regularly. Venezuelans travel to border for vaccinations as Colombia works to prevent outbreak. In a report last year, the Council on Foreign Relations said 3.3 million Venezuelans – 10% of Venezuela’s population -  had fled in a four-year period starting in 2015. Nearly 2 million Venezuelans fled to Colombia in recent years to escape their country's devastating economic crisis and rebuild their lives. Venezuela has said 600 people are allowed to cross the border each day, to allow for testing and organizing of quarantines. What does the change mean? “We’re in a bad way,” said Dubraska Dubian, 26, who was trying to return to Venezuela with her husband and their three daughters. Weary from travel, the migrants - including the elderly, some with diabetes and pregnant women - worried over the delays. Venezuelans Stream Into Colombia Latin America is dealing with a refugee crisis larger than anyone in the region has seen before. Colombia’s lockdown, now in its sixth week, has decimated the informal economy in which many migrants work, plunging them deeper into poverty and triggering a reversal in migration flows. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a resolution that allows Venezuelans to enter, transit and leave Colombian territory with an expired passport. Related: Turning the tables: Venezuelans in Colombia. Thousands of Venezuelans cross into Colombia after Maduro reopens border By Manuel Rueda and Luz Dary Depablos The Associated Press Posted June 8, 2019 4:22 pm Pereda and Gimena Sanchez, Andes director for the Washington Office on Latin America, WOLA, say resources were already insufficient before the pandemic hit. Venezuelan migrants wait for a bus in Bogota, Colombia, July 2, 2020, to travel to the border. Now, more than 30,000 migrants are stuck waiting in Colombia alone, many in makeshift camps in big cities like Medellín and Bogota. Venezuelans do not need to use a passport when traveling to Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia, as they may use their ID card. Crossings “are subject to the daily availability Venezuela has to receive its citizens,” the agency said. See here for a complete list of exchanges and delays. In a Reuters interview last month, Colombian President Iván Duque described  Venezuela as public health “time bomb.”. On clear days, Venezuelans can see the island of Curacao, which lies just 40 miles off its coast. The U.S. Agency for International Development is helping fund the Catholic Church program, which feeds more than 2,700 people a day. ... Travel before March 21 & save 20% on your next booking. Venezuelans on the road: migrants seek freedom and food.. posted in February 2019. Neighboring Colombia is hosting far more Venezuelans than any other country---approximately one-third of the total. Thousands of Venezuelans have decided to make the trek home – back to Venezuela — even though it might be hundreds of kilometers long for many of them and the border between Colombia and Venezuela is officially closed. Do not attempt to cross the land border. Colombia too has its own jungle and treks such as the Ciudad Perdida Trek in the Tyronna National Park close to Santa Marta. However, you can take the bus to Core 3, take the bus to Plaza Carrasquero, take the drive to Maicao, take the bus to Honda, take the bus to La Vega, take the bus to Portal 80 T3, then take the bus to Calle 19 A - 2 o 5. These are just a few of the destinations in Venezuela and Colombia. When they arrive at the border, migrants describe a brutal, sometimes months-long process before they can return home, packed into facilities by Venezuelan authorities with hundreds of other migrants, sleeping on cement floors and often eating little more than undercooked eggs and corn cakes known as arepas. Thousands of Venezuelans … A migration agency spokesman said on Wednesday evening an agreement had been reached to allow some buses to head to the border on Thursday and others on Friday. The move will be a welcome relief for Venezuelans who have been forced to make a sometimes grueling overland trek to neighboring Colombia to apply for a visa. Hard times have led some Venezuelans to leave, despite travel restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19. However, you can take the bus to Portal 80 T2, take the walk to Bogotá - Portal 80, take the bus to Bogotá - Terminal Salitre, take the walk to Bogotá, take the bus to Maicao, take the drive to Plaza Carrasquero, take the bus to … “They cannot transit like they used to,” she said. Venezuelans who have lost their jobs may also face homelessness if they can no longer pay their rent. Over 76,000 Venezuelans have already returned to their home country, according to Colombia’s migration authorities. Colombia’s migration agency says Venezuela limits entrances to 300 per day. MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA - Ada Gutierrez has thought about returning to Venezuela every single day since Colombia went into quarantine in late March. For many, it’s only the beginning of a gruelling journey. Venezuelans line up for free meals in Cucuta, Colombia. “They have to let us leave.”, Bolivar, the Venezuelan doctor, agreed: “What we want is to travel, to go back to our country.”, Reporting by Oliver Griffin, Herbert Villarrage and Camilo Cohecha in Bogota; additional reporting by Deisy Buitrago in Caracas and Luis Jaime Acosta in Bogota; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Leslie Adler. The walkers: Venezuelans travel hundreds of kilometres by foot Venezuelan migrants cross Colombia-Venezuela border every day. Venezuela, home to some of South America's most incredible landscapes, rightly has a terrible image problem at the moment. Other vulnerable populations – families, the elderly, and migrants living with disabilities or medical conditions – have echoed Gutierrez’ fears. So day after day, she has opted to stay, hoping that at the end of the day, she and Eva will have food, a place to sleep and enough luck to not get infected. All quotes delayed a minimum of 15 minutes. Passengers will be subject to sanctions that could prevent their re-entry to Colombia or block them from certain visas. We are living on the street,” Jesus Bolivar, 34, a Venezuelan doctor who has been in Colombia for over a year, told Reuters Wednesday morning. There is no direct connection from Venezuela to Colombia. but it has been very tense because with this invisible enemy, we do not know when it is going to attack.”. About 1.8 million Venezuelan migrants live in Colombia. Venezuela has reported 9,707 cases and 93 deaths, but observers say the Maduro government is drastically undercounting cases. We’re sleeping in the buses, we don’t have food,” Dubian said. The government has responded by introducing the PEP, a special permit allowing Venezuelans to stay and work in Colombia for two years. Moreover, Venezuelans may also travel to the United States, Canada, Spain and several Latin American countries using expired passports. The exodus from Venezuela has ballooned in recent years as the South American country’s economic and political spiral accelerates, compounding its medical and energy crises. Venezuelans travel to Fatima with a plea for their country by Catholic News Agency May 16, 2017 Start your day with Always Forward! A daily email newsletter … Gutierrez, one of 5 million people who have fled crisis-stricken Venezuela, has spent months of quarantine in Colombia selling candy on the streets of Medellín, the country’s second biggest city. That could be devastating for Colombia, which is still struggling to emerge from decades of an internal conflict that already displaced nearly 8 million of its own citizens. Buses that have begun transport without authorization will be halted until there is space at the border, the statement said. The Colombian government said that the process to return could now take up to 6 months. Others already live on the streets. “What you are going to see is more and more people becoming stuck or going back-and-forth.”. According to Iván Darío González, Colombia’s vice-minister of public health, Colombia has provided health care services to some 340,000 incoming Venezuelans since early 2017. When it finally reopened, the flow of people began going in the opposite direction. Some 500 migrants and a dozen buses were stranded near the toll booths that mark the northern border of Bogota, the Colombian capital, as migration authorities limited transport amid passage restrictions at the border. MEDELLIN, Colombia (AP) — The Trump administration stealthily deported an unknown number of Venezuelans through a third country, possibly violating U.S. laws and undermining U.S. warnings about the socialist government’s human rights record, according to the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Gutierrez left two years ago to give birth to her daughter in Colombia because Venezuelan hospitals were already collapsed and maternal and infant mortalities have skyrocketed. COLOMBIA: If travel plans extend for more than 4 months, a visa is needed.If travel plans are less than 4 months no visa is needed but a valid passport is required. As Latin America emerged as the epicenter of the pandemic, Gutierrez said she wants to return home to Venezuela just as 81,000 other Venezuelans had done by the end of  June, according to Colombia’s border control agency. Colombia’s roads are full of Venezuelans. Now, they distribute boxes of food to families starving in months of quarantine and try to connect Venezuelans wanting to return with local governments. Special procedures have been put in place for Venezuelans wanting to return home, the agency said in a statement, as it called for migrants to coordinate travel with local authorities. This comes despite President Nicolas Maduro’s calls for Venezuelans to return home at the beginning of the pandemic, announcing over state television that returnees would be treated with “love and affection.”. In the last two weeks, Colombian authorities slowed the number of Venezuelan migrants being allowed to travel to the border city of Cucuta from 400 a day by more than a quarter. “There are children here and we have no food to give them, we have no water, no resources, nor anywhere to stay. In recent weeks, the Venezuelan government has placed a limit on migrants crossing back to Venezuela, only letting 400 of its citizens cross the land border three times a week. At the beginning of the pandemic, migrants walked hundreds of miles back to the Venezuelan border. Seismic Activity: Venezuela is an earthquake-prone country and is occasionally subject to Others returned by buses facilitated by Colombia, the biggest receiver of the exodus – now eager to send them home. The needs are only heightened as migrants lose their jobs, are kicked out of their homes and face rising xenophobia. Fernando Vergara/AP. During the first months of the pandemic, more than 100,000 Venezuelans living in Colombia returned home after losing their jobs. If not, the two sleep on the streets. “If we have to, we do not eat for the entire day to pay for our room. They say Venezuelan authorities are only allowing Venezuelans to cross three days each week at what's normally a bustling border crossing. Dr. Myleidy, one of several doctors on Project HOPE’s medical team in Cúcuta, works at a clinic near the Simón Bolívar Bridge, an official crossing point between Colombia and Venezuela. Our reality here is living day-to-day, sleeping in the streets and going hungry,” said Gutierrez. “I'm scared, but I have to go out to the streets every single day and search for a way to feed ourselves,” she said, “because that's how we stay alive.”, As Latin America becomes an epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, a massive informal sector struggles to survive, It's got 2.5 million residents and only four confirmed COVID-19 deaths, Coronavirus cases have surged near border with Brazil, For Venezuelan Migrants Living in Colombia, the Road Home is Paved with Mixed Messages, In Pandemic, Colombia's Street Vendors Adapt or Go Hungry, Colombia’s Medellin Emerges as Surprise COVID-19 Pioneer, Colombia Tightens COVID-19 Restrictions at Border with Brazil. 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