February 22, 2018 / 10:21 PM / in 4 months

Venezuelans' legal entry to Colombia dips 30 percent with tighter border: government

BOGOTA (Reuters) - The legal daily entry of Venezuelan migrants into Colombia has fallen by 30 percent in the last two weeks, the Colombian migration agency said on Thursday, after the government imposed stricter border controls.

FILE PHOTO - A girl stands next to a barbed wire fence as she waits to try to cross the border to Colombia over the Francisco de Paula Santander international bridge in Urena, Venezuela December 18, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

More than half a million Venezuelans were living in Colombia as of the end of last year, fleeing runaway inflation and malnutrition. More than 60 percent of Venezuelans said that during the previous three months they had woken up hungry because they did not have enough money to buy food, a university study found. [nL8N1QB6EW]

Two weeks ago, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos announced tougher migratory controls along the 2,219 km (1,379-mile) border, temporarily suspending the issuance of new daily entry cards for Venezuelans and deploying 3,000 new security personnel. [nL2N1PY1R7]

FILE PHOTO - People cross from Venezuela over the Simon Bolivar international bridge in Cucuta, Colombia December 20, 2016. The text reads: "Come back soon, Colombia awaits you". REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

Entry at seven migration checkpoints fell from an average of 48,000 per day to 35,000 per day, the agency said in a statement.

The figures only include legal entries using the migration cards or passports and do not include the thousands of Venezuelans estimated to enter their neighboring country illegally each day, either to buy basic goods or as more permanent migrants.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb and Helen Murphy; editing by Grant McCool

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