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As Mike Pompeo visits Colombia tomorrow, the International Rescue Committee raises the alarm on ongoing social unrest, increasing xenophobia and a worsening economy, and calls for greater funding

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New York, NY, September 18, 2020 — Meghan Lopez, the International Rescue Committee’s Regional Director of Latin America, said, “Colombia is often seen as an open-door country accepting Venezuelans in desperate need. The reality is a complex situation, filled with a growing social movement, a tanked economy, and its own exodus of Venezuelans back to Venezuela.

"Since mid March 2020, around 100,000 Venezuelans have returned to Venezuela, clients of ours telling us they would rather die from hunger, homelessness and poverty in their native country than in Colombia. In fact, according to DANE (National Administrative Department of Statistics), in the second quarter of 2020 the Colombian economy decreased 15.7% compared to the same period in 2019. In July 2020, the unemployment rate was 20.2% compared to 10.7% the same month last year.

“Those that stay in Colombia face increasing xenophobia and a growing social movement of unrest. With 55 massacres and 214 killings of social leaders this year alone, many students, indigenous people and unions are voicing their criticisms towards the government and calling for an end to insecurity, corruption and economic inequality. The police abuse cases even in the last week have only made the situation worse. And that is all on top of a global pandemic that has left 200 Colombians dying each day from this deadly virus.”

“Two funding packages that support Venezuelans in Venezuela and Colombia -- the UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Venezuela and the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela -- have received just 8% and 21% of their funding appeals respectively. The US government must help fund these appeals if we are ever to end these crises and continue to brace a pandemic on top of it all.”