Colombia reports Covid-19 cases in Venezuelan refugee shelter

Colombia cases Venezuelan shelter
Venezuelan refugee camp in Colombia. Photo: Daniel Andres Carzon/Shutterstock

Colombian health authorities detected four coronavirus cases in three different shelters for Venezuelan refugees in the northern border city of Arauquita. Asylum seekers were housed there following an escalation of violent conflict between the Venezuelan military and illegal armed groups in the region.

According to Arauquita mayor Etelivar Torres, it could be the start of “a new crisis.” Beyond the four said shelters, there is a large-scale problem regarding Venezuelan migration and Covid-19: as well as creating a reverse-flow of migration — as many citizens find themselves in poor or worse conditions abroad during the pandemic — they are twice as likely to be affected by the disease, especially due to being undocumented and not having access to health systems.

Neighboring Colombia is the top destination for Venezuelan migrants and refugees. Amid the crisis, the Colombian government decided to offer visas to 1 million Venezuelans, out of the total of over 1.7 million currently living in the country.

Another problem on Colombia’s radar is the spread of the Brazilian coronavirus variant, which already forced local authorities to ban flights from the country and impose new restrictions to avoid a third contamination wave.

Independent researchers suggest that more than 49 percent of the over 4 million Venezuelans outside their homeland have been affected in some way by the pandemic.