Venezuelan migrants (File photo)
Venezuelan migrants (File photo)

Venezuela migrant crisis to become world's largest by 2020: Report

ANI | Updated: Jun 29, 2019 04:46 IST

Medellin [Colombia], June 29 (ANI): The Venezuelan exodus may exceed eight million people by the end of next year, which would make it the largest migration crisis in the world, according to a special report issued by the Organisation of American States (OAS).
The group's projection puts the exodus between 7.5 million and 8.2 million in 2020, far surpassing the 6.7 million people who in eight years have fled Syria, Al Jazeera reported.
"It's not an economic or voluntary migration," said David Smolansky, an exiled Venezuelan politician who presented the final report with Harvard University economist Dany Bahar to the OAS assembly on Friday.
"It's forced migration," he added.
The projections were previously released as part of the group's preliminary report in March, but on Friday OAS representatives, pointing to the report, appealed to the international community for more support in addressing the growing number of Venezuelan migrants and refugees.
The UN estimates that four million people have already left Venezuela in recent years, fleeing hyperinflation, violence and scarcity of medicine and food as the country descends deeper into a catastrophic collapse.
The wave of displaced Venezuelans has already stoked tension and instability in South American countries, and the prospective doubling of the total exodus in the next 18 months raises grim prospects for the region's future.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration on the same day announced sanctions on the son of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in a move to increase pressure on family members of top officials backing the leader and suspected of corruption.
The action by the US Treasury Department freezes any US assets belonging to Maduro's son, Nicolas Ernesto Maduro Guerra, and prohibits US nationals or American institutions from doing business with him.
"Maduro's regime was built on fraudulent elections, and his inner circle lives in luxury off the proceeds of corruption while the Venezuelan people suffer," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
"Maduro relies on his son Nicolasito and others close to his authoritarian regime to maintain a stranglehold on the economy and suppress the people of Venezuela. Treasury will continue to target complicit relatives of illegitimate regime insiders profiting off of Maduro's corruption," he added.
Guerra is also a member of the constitutional assembly, a rubber-stamping rival of the opposition-controlled congress charged with rewriting the nation's charter.
In 2017, he delivered a fiery speech from the assembly vowing to storm the White House in response to President Donald Trump's threat of military force to remove his father from power.
A senior US administration official was further quoted as saying that Washington is considering expanding actions against family members of Maduro officials as part of its focus on corruption by the socialist leader's top allies. (ANI)