'More than 4 million Venezuelans have now fled economic and humanitarian chaos in what the UN’s refugee agency called a “staggering” exodus that has swelled by 1 million people since last November alone.
Venezuela at the crossroads: the who, what and why of the crisis
The number of Venezuelan migrants and refugees stood at about 695,000 at the end of 2015, the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced on Friday.
Three and a half years later – with Venezuela immersed in a seemingly intractable social and political crisis – that number has “skyrocketed” to more than 4 million, the groups said.
About half of that total have sought shelter in two South American countries – Colombia and Peru – which host about 1.3 million and 768,000 respectively. Many others have made for Chile (288,000), Ecuador (263,000), Brazil (168,000) and Argentina (130,000).
The humanitarian groups said “significant” numbers were also heading to the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. Venezuelan activists and officials in Mexico estimate the exile community there has grown to about 40,000 in recent years.
A growing number are also heading to the United States, with nearly 30,000 Venezuelans applying for asylum there last year, according to the Los Angeles Times. That meant Venezuela had overtaken China to become the number one country of origin for those claiming asylum on arrival or shortly after, the newspaper said.
Eduardo Stein, the special representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants for UNHCR and the IOM, said the “alarming” rise in their numbers underlined an urgent need to support those countries grappling with Venezuela’s historic exodus.'
Read more: Venezuela's 'staggering' exodus reaches four million, UN refugee agency says
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