Thousands of Venezuelans flee to Colombia amid border violence | News on the coronavirus pandemic
The Venezuelan army says it is fighting Colombian armed groups in rural areas, Colombia says people are “forcibly displaced”.
Tensions at the border between Colombia and Venezuela continued to escalate Thursday, amid military operations that sent thousands of Venezuelans fleeing to Colombia from their homes along the border.
Thousands of Venezuelans have fled to Colombia from Apure province following continued military operations, the Colombian government and some of the displaced have said.
Venezuela said its army fought Colombian armed groups in rural areas and enjoyed the support of its people.
“When the bombs fell, I felt so nervous,” Niomar Diaz, 26, who arrived in Colombia by canoe to Reuters news agency. “In one house, a grandfather died, an eight-year-old boy died, a nine-year-old girl and her mother. The situation was terrible.
Diaz said the Venezuelan military was abusive and that his family and several neighbors chose to flee.
More than 3,100 people in 780 families make up the group, which began arriving in the Colombian municipality of Arauquita from Monday due to military operations, the Colombian Migration Agency said.
The border is currently closed due to COVID-19.
“Foreigners are in eight shelters in the municipality of Arauquita and the national government, the governor of Arauca and the international community are making efforts to provide them with assistance,” the agency said.
#RELEASE | Venezuela rejects statements by the Colombian Foreign Ministry regarding “suspected concern” about FANB operations in Apure state. Any attempt to violate the territorial integrity of Venezuela will provoke a strong reaction. pic.twitter.com/M8OhBkGKTe
– Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) March 24, 2021
Translation: Venezuela rejects statements by the Colombian Foreign Ministry regarding “alleged concern” regarding FANB (Venezuelan Armed Forces) operations in Apure State. Any attempt to violate the territorial integrity of Venezuela will provoke a strong reaction.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza on Wednesday denounced Colombia’s attacks on civilian targets at the border, as well as the use of anti-personnel mines, and said his country would have a “strong reaction”.
“Venezuela will effectively guarantee peace in the national territory and ratifies any attempt to violate territorial integrity,” Arreaza said in a statement, “whether conventional or secret, by any armed organization, whether regular or irregular, will have a strong reaction. “
The operations were carried out against illegal camps of Colombian armed groups, according to the statement, and two Venezuelan soldiers were killed.
Colombia’s foreign ministry on Twitter this week expressed concern over the situation and urged the international community to provide assistance to the displaced.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on the international community to join it in providing assistance in the face of this humanitarian crisis, in which more than 3,100 people have had to be forcibly displaced to find protection in Colombia.
– Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (@CancilleriaCol) March 24, 2021
Translation: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs calls on the international community to join it in providing assistance in the face of this humanitarian crisis, in which more than 3,100 people have had to be forcibly displaced to find protection in Colombia.
Colombian Defense Minister Diego Molano on Twitter on Wednesday said the nation would increase the military and police presence in the region.
The Colombian government has vehemently criticized what it describes as protecting the Venezuelan government from Colombian rebels and criminal gangs. Venezuela has denied protection for these groups.
Colombia said last month it would grant 10-year protected status to some 1.7 million Venezuelans.