Colombia on Monday said it would register hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in the country without papers, to provide them with legal residence permits and facilitate their access to healthcare and legal employment opportunities.
Colombian President Ivan Duque said that through a new temporary protection statute, Venezuelan migrants who are in the country illegally would be eligible for 10-year residence permits, while migrants who are on temporary residence would be able to extend their stay.
The new measure could benefit up to 1 million Venezuelan citizens who are living in Colombia without papers, as well as hundreds of thousands who need to extend temporary visas.
Duque announced the protection measure in a stately government palace in Bogota while standing with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“As we take this historic and transcendental step for Latin America we hope other countries will follow our example,” Duque told a room full of ambassadors and diplomats, who were invited to witness the announcement.
Grandi said the new policy would improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of impoverished people, and called it an “extraordinary gesture” of humanity, pragmatism and commitment to human rights.
The Colombian government estimates that 1.8 million Venezuelans are living in the country, and that 55 percent of them do not have residence papers.
Most have arrived since 2015 to escape hyperinflation, food shortages and an increasingly authoritarian government.
Duque said that registering the undocumented immigrants and refugees would benefit Colombia’s security agencies and would also make the provision of social services, including COVID-19 vaccines, more efficient.
The government said Venezuelans who arrive legally in Colombia within the next two years would also be allowed to apply for temporary protection.
The new policy came after former US president Donald Trump signed an executive order in the last days of his presidency that halted deportations of tens of thousands of Venezuelans living in the US.
Colombia’s new temporary protection statute would be implemented as migrants leaving Venezuela find it harder to settle in other South American countries, due to land border closures and growing anti-immigrant sentiment.
In Ecuador, hundreds of Venezuelans are stuck along the country’s southern border following Peru’s decision to send tanks and troops to the area to stop illegal border crossings.
Other popular destinations for Venezuelan migrants include Panama and Chile, which have imposed visa requirements that make it harder for Venezuelans to move to those countries.
According to the UN, there are 4.7 million Venezuelan migrants and other refugees in other Latin American countries after fleeing the economic collapse and political divide in their homeland. Colombia is home to more than one-third of them.
Duque said that while Colombia’s decision would provide some relief, he did not expect it to stop the Venezuelan exodus.
“If we want to stop this crisis countries have to reflect about how to end the dictatorship in Venezuela,” he said. “We have to think about how to set up a transitional government and organize free elections.”
NASA scientists on Friday presented striking early images from the picture-perfect landing of the Mars rover Perseverance, including a selfie of the six-wheeled vehicle dangling just above the surface of the Red Planet moments before touchdown. The color photograph, likely to become an instant classic among memorable images from the history of spaceflight, was snapped by a camera mounted on the rocket-powered “sky crane” descent-stage just above the rover as the car-sized space vehicle was being lowered on Thursday to Martian soil. The image was unveiled by mission managers during an online news briefing Webcast from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near
Three years after a deadly virus struck India’s endangered Asiatic lions in their last remaining natural habitat, conservationists are hunting for new homes to help booming prides roam free. The majestic big cats, slightly smaller than their African cousins and with a fold of skin along their bellies, were once found widely across southwest Asia. Hunting and human encroachment saw the population plunge to just 20 by 1913, and the lions are now found only in a wildlife sanctuary in India’s western Gujarat State. Following years of concerted government efforts, the lion population in Gir National Park has swelled to nearly 700, according
China’s military yesterday said that four of its soldiers were killed in a mountain border clash with Indian forces last year, the first time that Beijing has publicly stated that its side had casualties in the deadliest incident between the Asian giants in nearly 45 years. India at the time announced that it had lost 20 of its soldiers in the June fighting atop a ridge in the Karakoram Mountains in the Ladakh region. Soldiers used their fists, clubs, stones and other improvised weapons to avoid an out-and-out firefight. China was believed to have also sustained casualties, but did not provide any details,
DMZ SWIM: Over more than three hours, South Korean surveillance cameras caught him eight times and audible alarms sounded twice, but border guards did not notice A North Korean defector wore a diving suit and fins during a daring six-hour swim around one of the world’s most fortified borders and was only caught after apparently falling asleep, a Seoul official said. South Korean forces did not spot the man’s audacious exploit, despite his appearance several times on surveillance cameras after he landed and triggered alarms, drawing heavy criticism from media and opposition lawmakers. Even after his presence was noticed, the man — who used diving gear to make his way by sea around the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean Peninsula — was not caught for another