August 21, 2018 / 8:51 PM / in 3 months

Ecuador wants regional summit on Venezuela migration crisis

Venezuelan migrants walk along the Ecuadorean highway to Peru before new rules requiring they hold a valid passport kick in, at Tulcan, Ecuador August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Andres Rojas

QUITO (Reuters) - Ecuador’s government on Tuesday said it wanted to host a regional summit to discuss a worsening exodus of migrants fleeing devastated Venezuela and overwhelming South America.

The foreign ministry said it was inviting Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Venezuela to a Sept. 17-18 meeting in Quito.

The diplomatic activity comes amid a ballooning exodus that has inundated border towns and flooded some Latin American job markets with low-skilled Venezuelans desperate for work in order to send money back to their convulsed homeland.

With the International Monetary Fund forecasting that Venezuela’s inflation could reach 1 million percent by the year’s end, malnutrition is on the rise, as a monthly minimum wage that amounts to a few U.S. dollars puts basic products like chicken out of reach for many.

In the last week, both Ecuador and Peru have announced tighter entry requirements for Venezuelans, while in Brazil rioters drove hundreds of migrants back over the border.

“It is the moment to exchange opinions, to see what different countries are doing in different aspects,” said Ecuador’s Vice Minister for Human Mobility Santiago Chavez in the statement.

“The worst that can happen to the country (Ecuador) is migratory chaos,” he added.

Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by James Dalgleish

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