An estimated 3 million people have fled the crisis in Venezuela since 2015, most of whom should be considered refugees, the United Nations (UN) said on May 21.
“We see an average of 3,000 to 5,000 people that are escaping Venezuela, each day,” Liz Throssel, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told the press in Geneva.
“We’re looking at about 3 million people who have left Venezuela since 2015,” she added.
UNHCR said 3.7 million Venezuelans have been counted abroad; 700,000 of them emigrated before 2015.
At the end of 2018, about 460,000 Venezuelans had made formal asylum requests, mostly in neighboring Latin American countries, according to UN statistics.
However, 1.4 million people received residence permits, humanitarian or working visas to stay legally in these Latin American countries.
“Given the worsening political, economic, human rights, and humanitarian situation in Venezuela [...] UNHCR now considers that the majority of those fleeing the country are in need of international refugee protection,” Throssel said.
“This is because of the threats to their lives, security or freedom resulting from circumstances that are seriously disturbing public order in Venezuela,” she added.
UNHCR also submitted a document to help administrations and authorities managing international protection requests from Venezuelan refugees.
“UNHCR also calls on states to ensure that Venezuelans, regardless of their legal status, are not deported or otherwise forcibly returned to Venezuela,” Throssel said.
The massive migration of Venezuelans fleeing from the critical economic situation in their country is one of the largest displacements of people in the recent history of Latin America.