Colombia laments lack of aid for growing Venezuela migration crisis

FILE PHOTO: Venezuelans gather to cross into Ecuador from Colombia, most of them trying to reach Peru as one of the most welcoming destinations for migrants in South America, in Tulcan, Ecuador June 15, 2019. REUTERS/Daniel Tapia/File Photo

BOGOTA (Reuters) - International donors have been significantly less generous in their support of Venezuelan migrants than other global refugee crises, Colombia’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, as he repeated a request for more aid money.

Colombia has borne the burnt of mass migration from its neighbor, which is mired in a deep political and economic crisis that has caused long-running shortages of food and medicines.

More than 1.4 million Venezuelans have fled to Colombia in recent years, pressuring healthcare services, school places and other basics like food and shelter.

The United Nations had called for global donations of $315 million in 2019 to help Colombia - itself a developing country - cope with the influx. But as of last week, it had received just 30 percent of that, said Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo in a statement.

“The international community has been much more generous in other cases,” said Trujillo, who met with UN representatives on Tuesday. “We are grateful for the cooperation that we have received but as the number of migrants keeps growing, so will the demand for services and resources.”

The funds received equate to around $68 per migrant, he said, comparing that to the between $500 and $900 donated per person for those fleeing crises in Syria, South Sudan and Myanmar.

Speaking to Reuters at the weekend, the head of the UN refugee agency Filippo Grandi said Venezuela was “one of the most under-funded humanitarian appeals in the world for one of the biggest crises.”

Colombia said this month it would give citizenship to more than 24,000 children born to Venezuelan migrant parents to prevent the children from being stateless and less able to access education and healthcare.

The country of some 49 million has not put in place stringent immigration requirements, although restrictions are mounting in other parts of the region.

Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien