Refugees at Colombia Venezuela border LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Image

The Regional Costs of Venezuela’s Collapse

The refugee crisis generated by the country's economic implosion is comparable to that in Europe in 2015. In response, US President Donald Trump has floated the idea of military intervention, when what the US should be doing is increasing financial and logistical aid to Venezuela's neighbors.

BOGOTÁ – As Venezuela’s great experiment with “Bolivarian” socialism implodes, it is creating a humanitarian and refugee crisis comparable to Europe in 2015. Traveling by bus, boat, and even on foot through treacherous terrain, around one million Venezuelans have fled to Colombia alone, and another two million are estimated to be in other, mostly neighboring, countries.

There, they often live in desperately unsafe conditions with little food and no medicine, sleeping anywhere they can. So far, there are no United Nations refugee camps, only modest aid from religious organizations and other NGOs. Hunger and disease are rampant.

By and large, Colombia is doing its best to help, providing care to those who show up at hospitals. And its large informal economy is absorbing many refugees as workers. But with a per capita GDP of only around $6,000 (compared to $60,000 for the United States), Colombia’s resources are limited. And the government must also urgently reintegrate some 25,000 FARC guerillas and their families under the terms of the 2016 peace treaty that ended a half-century of brutal civil war.

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