The United Nations said on Friday that the number of Venezuelans who have left their country in recent years has surpassed four million.
The UN refugee agency said the number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants rose by one million after November, indicating a rapid escalation in the months since dozens of nations recognised opposition leader Juan Guado as the country’s interim leader.
US-backed Guaido invoked the constitution in January to assume the interim presidency, declaring Nicolas Maduro‘s 2018 re-election illegitimate. Maduro, who maintains the support of several countries including Russia, China and Cuba, accuses Guaido and the United States of attempting a coup.
The “alarming” figure highlights the urgent need to support host countries, mainly in Latin America – led by Colombia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina – the UN refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a joint statement issued in Geneva.
The UN refugee agency said that more than 1.3 million Venezuelans are in Colombia, while 768,000 are in Peru.
Venezuelans are fleeing violence, hyperinflation, unemployment and food and medicine shortages.
Earlier this year, the country faced numerous power outages, exacerbating issues within the country’s already failing infrastructure.
The UN’s announcement on Friday comes a day after Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra announced his country would implement stricter measures for Venezuelans fleeing their country’s economic and political crises.
Starting on June 15, Venezuelans will be required to enter Peru with a passport and visa issued at the country’s consulate in Caracas.
Getting a passport is an expensive and lengthy ordeal for many Venezuelans, compelling large numbers to leave without one.
Vizcarra made the announcement as he oversaw the deportation of 50 Venezuelans accused of falsifying information to enter the country.
The president said while Peru has opened its arms “now we are going to be more rigorous”.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the regional Lima Group issued a statement urging countries that support Maduro’s government, particularly Russia, China, Cuba and Turkey, to be part of the solution to Venezuela‘s crisis.
It also rejected Maduro’s call on May 20 for early elections for Venezuela’s National Assembly, which is run by the opposition.
In May, Venezuela’s government and the opposition met for talks in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, but the meeting ended without an agreement.