Venezuelan authorities are expecting the return of up to 15,000 migrants in the coming days as Corona-virus cases grow elsewhere in the region.
Local government spokespersons at border states reported large flows of migrants returning to the country over the last week.
About 1,600 refugees arrived in over 20 buses from as far away as Ecuador at the popular Táchira State crossing with Colombia, 160 from Colombia at the Apure State crossing and 80 from Brazil at the Bolivar State crossing.
A migrant “caravan” of up to 5,000 people is also reportedly walking over 550 kilometers to return to Venezuela from the Colombian capital Bogota.
Thousands of Venezuelan migrants seeking repatriation have also signed up on embassy-organized lists as part of the government’s Return to the Homeland program.
One hundred Venezuelans were flown home from the Dominican Republic last week, while requests for flight permits to return citizens stranded in the US and Ecuador have been rejected by Washington and Quito.
All of Venezuela’s land borders are currently closed as part of the national lockdown imposed on March 17, but exceptions are being made for coordinated “humanitarian” openings to allow migrants back home.
On Monday, the Venezuelan government announced a night-time curfew from 4PM to 10AM in some border regions, as well as fingerprinting ID and police and Interpol checks for returning migrants, to avoid “chaos” and ensure public safety at the crossings.
Venezuelans abroad have joined millions of migrants across the world that have been left jobless and without social coverage after lock downs paralyzed most economies in March.
In Colombia, where a reported 1.8 million Venezuelans live, a pre-Corona-virus report indicated that 90% of the migrants have “informal employment” and “live from what they produce on a day-to-day basis.”
As a result, hundreds of Venezuelans abroad have reportedly been evicted from their homes in the past two weeks, prompting Caracas to call on the United Nations to “intervene.”
Venezuela Analysis / ABC Flash Point News 2020.