Colombia reports coronavirus cases in shelters for Venezuelan refugees fleeing fighting

Colombia reports coronavirus cases in shelters for Venezuelan refugees fleeing fighting

The health authorities of Colombia detected four infections by coronavirus in three shelters in the municipality of Arauquita, set up for refugees who fled from clashes between the military and illegal armed groups in Venezuela, the local mayor said on Sunday.

Every day hundreds of Venezuelans come to Colombia, aggravating a humanitarian crisis that spans 18 makeshift shelters and forcing national, provincial and local authorities to partner with international organizations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to coordinate efforts. .

“We are already beginning to see a new crisis, which we knew could happen, that the health crisis would begin to appear with cases of COVID-19 that, we hope, are controlled quickly and do not overwhelm us ”, said Etelivar Torres, mayor of Arauquita, a Reuters.

The flow of refugees began a week ago after the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) of Venezuela will launch an offensive against illegal armed groups in La Victoria, a Venezuelan town in the province of Apure that is located on the other side of the Arauca River from Arauquita.

The refugees have accused the Venezuelan armed forces of rights abuses, including the murder of civilians and the looting of houses.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino López denied the abuse allegations on Saturday, while the chief prosecutor of Venezuela, Tarek Saab, said that the events would be the subject of an investigation.

Although some 4,900 Venezuelan refugees have so far been registered in ArauquitaIt is estimated that there are many more who are staying with friends and family, said Mayor Torres.

Melissa Galbraith
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