The mass flight of migrants from Venezuela in the face of economic collapse is approaching a “crisis point” said the United Nations migration agency, comparing it to refugees in the Mediterranean.
Political and economic turmoil is forcing many to flee the situation in Venezuela, where people are scrounging to get food and other items necessary for daily life.
Neighbouring countries are trying to control the flow of migrants, with officials from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru set to meet next week in Bogota to figure out a way forward.
In Brazil rioters drove back hundreds of Venezuelans back across the border earlier in the month.
Peru has tightened entry rules for Venezuelans, requiring them to carry passports rather than just national ID card, though a similar rule was just overturned by a judge in Ecuador on Friday.
Joel Millman, spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration, called for funding to manage the flow of migrants, warning that it could lead to a crisis similar to the Mediterranean.
“This is building to a crisis moment that we’ve seen in other parts of the world, particularly in the Mediterranean,” said Mr Millman.
Peru is cautious about allowing Venezuelans in, said Peru’s top immigration official, Eduardo Sevilla, who said Peru will try to help the vulnerable but is concerned about maintaining control over immigration.
“Is UNHCR going to take responsibility if that person commits a crime?” Mr Sevilla said.
“Our priority is to contribute to security and internal order by clearly identifying people.”