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Ecuador Calls for Regional Summit on Venezuelan Migrants


Venezuelan migrants walk along the Ecuadorean highway to Peru before new rules requiring they hold a valid passport kick in, at Tulcan, Ecuador, Aug. 21, 2018.

The Ecuadorian government is asking 13 other South American nations to attend a regional summit to discuss the Venezuelan migrant crisis.

The foreign ministry said it was inviting Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela to a Sept. 17-18 meeting in Quito.

According to the United Nations, more than 2 million Venezuelans have fled the worsening economic crisis in the oil-rich nation since 2014.

Desperate migrants have been fleeing through neighboring Colombia to countries like Ecuador and Peru in search of work.

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​The International Monetary Fund is forecasting that Venezuela's inflation could reach 1 million percent by the end of the year, sparking regional concern that the migrant crisis will only get worse.

Last week, Ecuador and Peru announced new rules blocking entry to Venezuelans traveling without a passport. Most poor Venezuelans don't have passports, which take months to obtain and cost hundreds of dollars.

Brazil sent troops to its northern border on Sunday after residents there burned a Venezuelan migrant camp.

Ecuador's deputy migration minister, Santiago Chavez, said it was important to establish policies to "confront in the best manner and most responsible way, the unusual flux of Venezuelan citizens."

The United Nations refugee agency estimates about 550,000 Venezuelans have entered Ecuador in 2018 but claims that only 20 percent of those remain, with the rest continuing on to Peru and Chile.