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Venezuelan Refugee Crisis On Pace To Surpass Syria's, But Is Most Underfunded

Fernando Vergara
Venezuelan refugees crossing into Colombia last year.

The U.N. says the number of Venezuelans fleeing their country is on pace to surpass even the Syrian refugee crisis. But a new study finds the Venezuelan crisis is receiving far less international aid.

Syria is home to the world’s worst refugee crisis today. Violence there has forced 6.7 million people out of the country. But the U.N.’s refugee agency now says the number of Venezuelans fleeing their humanitarian crisis could top that next year.

Even so, a new report by the nonprofit Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. finds the Venezuelan crisis is the world’s most underfunded. In the first four years of Syria's crisis, the international community donated 12 times more aid per refugee than it has for Venezuela’s emergency in the past four years - $1,500 versus $125 (or a total of $7.4 billion in Syria's case).

Experts say that’s largely because Syria’s refugee crisis is a more cut-and-dry example of people being displaced by war or natural disaster. Venezuela’s refugees, on the other hand, are escaping the worst economic collapse in the world today, caused mainly by years of authoritarian socialist mismanagement.

The U.N. has urged countries to grant Venezuelans treatment similar to that usually afforded refugees. But advocates for the Venezuelans say the U.N. and the international community should now declare their situation a genuine global refugee crisis, like Syria’s. They say that would open the door to increased aid.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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