The regularization of immigrants and refugees in Venezuela is an important issue for host countries, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean, the region with the highest number of displaced persons, due to the large number of people leaving Venezuela with expired identity documents.
He said this in an interview with Efe, the Joint Special Representative for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela, on Thursday. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees And the International Organization for Migration, Eduardo Stein of Guatemala.
“Most receiving countries have a central problem of regularization because large numbers of Venezuelans leave their country with expired documents and cannot be transferred through the embassy network,” Stein said.
Stein, vice president of Guatemala between 2004 and 2008, praised the recipient governments’ “efforts” in creating “extraordinary mechanisms for accepting outdated documents” and accessing basic services to these people.
So, “once they get a decent income, they can contribute to the development of the communities that run them and pay taxes,” he added.
For Stein, it was important to find a way to “make the Venezuelan people sometimes seen as a burden or a victim, a part of development in host communities and improve income conditions.”
“It is very important that these people, who leave everything and leave their country, find decent and sustainable livelihoods that will allow them to start their lives again,” Stein said.
Support for Venezuelan immigrants and recipient countries
Stein pointed out that it is appropriate to serve not only Venezuelan refugees and immigrants, but also the receiving countries.
“It makes sense not only to serve the Venezuelan diaspora, but also to have a comprehensive view of communities,” the special envoy said.
Latin America and the Caribbean, a region with a series of expatriate movements, welcome the majority of Venezuelans leaving their country.
According to the Response Plan 2022 (RMRP 2022) of the Integrated Platform Integrity Platform for Refugees and Immigrants, a slight increase of 7.1 million Venezuelan refugees and immigrants is expected worldwide next year, and 6.1 million in Latin America. Launched this Thursday, from Venezuela.
As of December this year, more than 6 million people had left Venezuela and a majority of 5 million had migrated to other countries in the region, with Colombia being the main destination, according to R4V site statistics.
According to RMRP 2022 figures, the number of people in need of assistance will increase to 8.4 million next year.
Venezuelan people “not ready to go back”
In the face of Venezuela’s expulsion, which began about five years ago due to the deteriorating socio – economic conditions in the country, the government of Nicolas Maduro has introduced the “Plan Vuelta a la Patria”, which provides support for immigrants who wish to return voluntarily.
However, Stein explained in recent years that “the truth is that Venezuelans who have left their country are not ready to return immediately.”
“We have no other opinion, it depends on the will of the immigrant who wants to return to their homeland,” Stein said, adding that “despite the epidemic, the population will be rooted in other countries.”
On the return, the delegate clarified that it would not be immediate, because “based on experience in other regions of the world, it would take about two years for the internal conditions of the country of birth to be adjusted.”
Thus, he recalled a “historical fact”: “When Venezuela welcomed tens of thousands of Colombians who had left their homeland due to internal conflict, these people began to return to Colombia despite the generous content of these agreements, despite the process of internal peace.”