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After Syria, the Next Refugee Crisis Is in Venezuela

March 28, 2018 in Economics

By Alex Nowrasteh

Alex Nowrasteh

Colombia recently deployed 3,000 troops along its border with Venezuela to
control the influx of more than 250,000 refugees fleeing that
failing socialist country. Brazil declared a state of social
emergency, deployed 100 more troops to the border, established new
checkpoints, and a field hospital to deal with the more than
60,000 Venezuelan refugees who have crossed
over into the northern part of the country. That is likely the
first of many actions by Colombia, Brazil, and other neighboring
governments to deal with this mess.

Since the rise of Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian socialism two decades
ago, 4 million Venezuelans have fled the country – including 1.2
million just in the last two years. The scale of Venezuela’s
emigration is quickly approaching the 5.5 million Syrians who fled
Syria during its civil war. A poll conducted by the Venezuelan firm
Consultores21 found that 40 percent of respondents wanted to flee
the country last December. If realized, that would mean almost 13
million emigrants, dwarfing the number who have fled Syria so far
during its civil war.

The world’s handling of the Syrian refugees was hit-or-miss,
providing lessons for those attempting to tackle the Venezuelan
crisis – beyond declaring states of emergency and deploying troops.
Venezuelan refugees can be integrated at a minimal cost to
taxpayers, international aid organizations, and charities, but only
if governments follow a few simple rules of thumb.

The first is to grant Venezuelans work permits as fast as
possible. Peru created a one-year renewable work and residency
permit for 11,000 Venezuelans, although more than 30,000 have applied. Just last year, 149,000 entered Peru. Brazil also created a
temporary residence permit for the rising number of
Venezuelans.

Venezuelan refugees can
be integrated at a minimal cost to taxpayers, international aid
organizations, and charities, but only if governments follow a few
simple rules of thumb.

These permits are great starts, but need to be available to all
Venezuelans who are fleeing the collapse of the Bolivarian
socialist state. The sooner that Venezuelans can work and support
themselves, the sooner the burden on local government services will
lessen. Otherwise, Venezuelans will continue to be charity cases or
work in the informal sector. This problem happened in many European countries, which invited Syrian asylum
seekers but then made it impossible for them to work legally or
start businesses. Jordan and Turkey reduced both problems by eventually
granting work permits to Syrians, with generally positive effects
on the local economy.

Colombia initially created a special work and residency permit
for Venezuelans called the PEP, with …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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