Last Updated: Monday, 05 December 2016, 10:49 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Venezuela

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Venezuela , 25 May 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/40b4594b0.html [accessed 5 December 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

An estimated 182,300 refugees and asylum seekers are hosted by Venezuela, almost all Colombians. UNHCR registered 60 refugees and 2,290 asylum seekers, again almost all Colombians. UNHCR and humanitarian agencies estimate some 180,000 Colombians have fled the conflict to Venezuela's border states since 1995 and are in need of international protection. In addition, UNHCR resettled one family of four to Canada last year.

Venezuela recently passed a new refugee law and this past year swore in a new refugee commission. Before the establishment of this commission, twenty percent of registered asylum-seekers dropped out of the process and an estimated 10 percent (230) returned to Colombia. While the commission issued its first decisions granting 47 persons asylum, the commission was not established with the funding and mandate to adequately address the protection needs of the estimated 180,000 Colombians in need of international protection.

Security conditions have deteriorated in many regions along the Colombian border. The Venezuelan military even clashed with Colombian armed groups in the border area in April 2003. Venezuelan security forces said they expelled some 15,000-20,000 Colombians last year. Given the lack of an effective asylum process and the fact security forces do not typically inquire about fear of return, U.S. Committee for Refugees estimated about 7,500 of these people were forcible returns of people in need of international protection.

Venezuela does not issue identity documents to asylum-seekers, much less to the undocumented. The lack of status forced thousands of Colombians, typically heads of household, into illicit dealings to secure documentation, ranging from minor bribery to occasionally even sexual favors. Yet, the population and many officials tolerate Colombians, as they have been migrating to Venezuela for decades. Although technically illegal, many find work.

About 2,960 Venezuelans had sought refuge in North America. Political groups for and against President Hugo Chavez clashed violently and some high-profile opponents have sought asylum with other nations. Reportedly, as many as 200,000 Venezuelans have fled to North America, chiefly Florida, in the past two years.

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