Colombia grants legal status to 1.7 million Venezuelan refugees

The government of Colombia and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced Monday that Colombia would provide the 1.7 million displaced Venezuelans in Colombia with a new form of legal status, providing them with essential basic security while living in Colombia as refugees. The new initiative offers 10-year temporary status to displaced Venezuelans living in Colombia, a population that makes up nearly 40 percent of the estimated 4.6 million Venezuelans in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Colombian President Ivan Duque called the initiative a “roadmap [for] regularization” that will be able to provide Venezuelans in Colombia with greater economic stability. The new temporary protected status will be offered to the more than half of the Venezuelan population in Colombia currently living without regular status, which can impede their ability to receive legal protection and services. COVID-19 and the resultant economic turmoil has further affected stability for Venezuelan refugees in Colombia. However, this new status will grant Venezuelans living in Colombia access to Colombia’s national health system and inclusion into its national COVID-19 vaccination plans, as well as giving them expanded access to the Colombian job market.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, praised Colombia’s new initiative on Twitter, saying that Colombia “gave an extraordinary example to the region and the world,” and describing the new plan as historic.

The Venezuelan refugee crisis is the worst displacement of people in Latin America’s recent history, and Venezuelans are one of the largest population groups displaced from their home country worldwide. Colombia is the single biggest host of Venezuelan refugees in Latin America, with Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina hosting hundreds of thousands more. Refugee rights have become a major concern in Latin America in recent years as a result, with the UN repeatedly urging neighboring states to respect the human rights of refugees fleeing Venezuela into other Latin American countries.

This article was translated from English into Spanish by JURIST Editor Daniela Comesanas Carmona. To view the translated article in Spanish click here.
Este artículo fue traducido de Inglés a Español por la editora de JURIST Daniela Comesanas Carmona. Para ver el artículo traducido en Español, da click aquí.