MAICAO, Colombia – Actress Angelina Jolie, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Special Envoy, highlighted on Saturday Colombia’s humanitarian response to help Venezuelans who have fled the economic and political crisis affecting their country.
Speaking at a press conference at Maicao refugee camp in the La Guajira region on the Colombia-Venezuela border, Jolie urged the international community to tackle the worsening problem.
“I am her to show my support to the people of Colombia, who are responding to the Venezuelan crisis with remarkable generosity,” Jolie said during her first visit to Colombia.
The number of Venezuelans leaving their country has reached four million, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration announced on Friday.
More than 1.3 million are in Colombia, where the government is providing them assistance in education and health care.
“Over 400,000 Colombians, who had been displaced to Venezuela, have now been forced to return by the catastrophic situation there,” Jolie said at the end of her two-day visit to La Guajira. “They are alongside 1.3 million Venezuelan refugees who have sought protection in Colombia.”
Jolie, who was accompanied by the UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner, Kelly Clements, and the UNHCR representative in Colombia, Jozef Mekx, said “It is extraordinary that a country facing so many huge challenges of its own has shown such humanity and is making these live-saving efforts. I want to acknowledge the bravery, strength and resilience of the Colombian people.
“Colombia has still kept its borders open and is doing everything that it can to absorb these unprecedented numbers of desperate people,” she added.
The actress, who met with Colombian President Ivan Duque earlier on Saturday in Cartagena, warned that more than 20,000 children born in Colombia to Venezuelan parents are at risk of becoming stateless.
“The president and I spoke of the risk of statelessness for more than 20,000 Venezuelan children and his commitment to always helping children,” she added.
Duque said that he had a conversation with Jolie on “the need to tackle the nationalization of thousands of Venezuelan children in our country who do not have a defined immigration status today. To do it is a humanitarian act, to provide them with opportunities and benefits that they deserve to come out of this tragedy.”