Filipppo Grandi, the head of the UNCHR, the UN Refugee Agency, has arrived in Colombia to start an eight-day tour of the region during which he will assess the Venezuelan migrant crisis. Aside from his time in Colombia, Grandi will also visit Argentina, Peru and Ecuador, all of which have received from tens to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans in recent years.
At a joint press conference with Colombian Foreign Affairs Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo, Grandi spoke on the importance of the trip from his perspective. Grandi said:
I think that it’s very important for me to understand the concrete problems that Venezuelans have so I can better plan future actions to support the Colombian government.
Colombia houses the majority of Venezuelans who have fled the country on foot, with nearly a million fleeing into the country in recent years.
During the same press conference, Holmes said that he would also be traveling to Peru and Ecuador in the coming days to put the finishing touches on a multinational coordination effort to better “face the situation” affecting the region.
Grandi: “Monumental Crisis” Underway
Grandi’s tour comes as one of the worst migrant crises in the history of the region continues unabated.
An article published on the UNHCR website on August 5 details the conditions that Venezuelan migrants face in the city of Maicao, in northern Colombia. The article details the hardships that a woman named Liliana Paz and her 10-year-old son have suffered. According to the article:
After staying the maximum three nights in the shelter, Liliana Paz, 55, and her 10-year-old grandson Gleiber have slept for the past three months on flattened cardboard boxes in a parking lot where they pay the equivalent of US$1 a night. But they are regulars at the center for breakfast and lunch.
“I was so thin when we got here that a bar of soap would fit right here” she said showing her bony left clavicle,” said Paz. She is grateful for the meals and says both she and the boy, who has epilepsy, have gained weight. The boy is now getting access to the medical treatment he needs.
After visiting the border city of Cucuta with Colombian officials this afternoon, Grandi said that the Venezuelan exodus has created a “monumental crisis” in the region, and stressed the importance of providing aid to Colombia so that it may better respond to the crisis.
Opposition Parties Express Concern Over Corker Visit
Two days ago, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker announced that he would be traveling to Venezuela to “assess the situation” on behalf of the U.S. government.
According to a spokesperson from Corker’s office, the senator will meet with both regime and opposition officials, as well as with representatives from civil society groups.
The last time that Corker was in Venezuela was in May when he helped to negotiate the release of Joshua Holt, a U.S. citizen who had been arbitrarily held in detention by the regime for two years.
Earlier today, three opposition parties issued a joint statement expressing their “concern” over Corker’s visit, citing the possibility that the Maduro regime may be attempting diplomacy to “buy time” for itself.
The letter was signed by the Primero Justicia (PJ), Voluntad Popular (VP), and La Causa R parties.
In apparent reference to former Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Zapatero’s numerous failed attempts to inject himself into the Venezuelan dialogue process, the letter states:
This would not be the first time that Maduro surprises the good faith of those who want to move forward with mediation efforts, but end up made fools of and discredited before national and international public opinion.
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