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This Refugee Crisis Happening Now in America’s Backyard


The Refugee Crisis in America’s Backyard
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WATCH: The Refugee Crisis in America’s Backyard

A growing humanitarian crisis is happening right now in America’s backyard, along the border of Venezuela and Colombia.

Faced with serious food shortages, a lack of medical supplies and an inflation rate the International Monetary Fund estimates could surpass 13,000 percent, Venezuelans are leaving their country in droves.

At the Simon Bolivar International Bridge that spans the border, officials say 25,000 Venezuelans cross the bridge into Colombia every day.

“We came because the situation in Venezuela, where we’re from, is too complicated," said Venezuelan Hilda Pimentel as she crossed the border.

“We don’t have any money, we are stocking up on what we can,” fellow migrant Dariasca Garcia said.

Venezuelans line up to cross into Colombia at the border in Paraguachon, Colombia, February 16, 2018.
Venezuelans line up to cross into Colombia at the border in Paraguachon, Colombia, February 16, 2018.

For some, leaving Venezuela for Colombia is a journey into unknown territory. William is leaving his family behind to look for opportunities in Colombia. Rosie, his wife of 20 years, wipes away tears as she accompanies him to the border.

“We’ve never been apart before," she said. "This is the first time.”

At an emergency room in the Colombian city of Cucuta, medical resources are stretched thin. Venezuelan migrant Jazmin Sibulo is grateful her baby wasn't born until she reached Colombia.

“It’s pitiful, very pitiful… it’s pitiful that one can’t receive attention," the new mother said. "But luckily, thanks to God, how do I say, hanging on to God… God protected her, waited until just the right moment to be born.”

Venezuelans walk on a highway after crossing the border between Venezuela and Colombia, in Paraguachon, Colombia, February 16, 2018.
Venezuelans walk on a highway after crossing the border between Venezuela and Colombia, in Paraguachon, Colombia, February 16, 2018.

Manuel Gregorio Mendez is another Venezuelan patient being treated in Colombia. He sought treatment for an injured leg and says the future of Venezuela looks grim.

“There, there is only hunger, the dead, and gunfire," he said as he sat on a gurney in the corridor of the hospital.

Colombian officials are struggling to deal with the influx of half a million new migrants. Some are proposing the construction of refugee camps to house and care for the homeless,

Meanwhile, Venezuelan voters will head to the polls on May 20 for a hastily called presidential election. But with top opposition challengers barred from running — some fear the situation in Venezuela will only get worse.

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