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November 9, 2018

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At least 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled crisis since 2015: UN

At least 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled crisis since 2015: UN

GENEVA: At least 2.3 million people have fled Venezuela’s economic and political crisis since 2015, the UN said on Thursday, warning that host countries’ capacity to shelter them was now "severely strained".

The UN agencies for refugees and migration said that more than three million Venezuelans now live abroad. "Most of these people have left since 2015," UN refugee agency spokesman William Spindler told AFP.

He said "at least 2.3 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants" had left the country since its crisis escalated three years ago, but he stressed that many people leave through "irregular" routes, and "the real figure could be higher".

That marks a jump of 400,000 people since the last tally by the UNHCR on October 1, although Spindler stressed that some of the change could reflect data adjustments. Spindler said surveys of exiled Venezuelans indicated that the exodus was prompted by a variety of reasons linked to their country’s economic collapse, including insecurity and violence as well as chronic shortages of food and medicines.

Data from national immigration authorities and other sources show that Latin American and Caribbean countries host around 2.4 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants, according to the joint statement from UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration. "Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have largely maintained a commendable open-door policy to refugees and migrants from Venezuela," Eduardo Stein, UNHCR-IOM Joint Special Representative for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela, said in the statement.

"However, their reception capacity is severely strained, requiring a more robust and immediate response from the international community if this generosity and solidarity are to continue," he added. Colombia has seen the biggest influx and is currently hosting more than one million refugees and migrants from Venezuela, the statement said.

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