More than a million Venezuelans have already crossed the border to live Colombia, and officials in Bogotá haven now formally opened a camp to help house an influx that has left so many migrants living in parks, near bus stations, and in other public spaces in the capital.
The camp is situation on a football field and features cots inside yellow tents in a high-altitude metropolis where temperatures hit an annual low of 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees celsius) in February and have dipped down to 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees celsius) multiple nights over the past month.
The camp has an initial capacity to house 500 people, an official in the Bogotá mayor’s office told the Associated Press, and has been designed after the temporary refugee shelter established in France to serve Syrian migrants.
Despite hesitation by some in the government, the shelter has been established due to the overwhelming need to find a solution to a humanitarian crisis that is now clearly not only Venezuela’s alone but a regional concern. Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador are among the other countries that have seen a large spike in the number of Venezuelan arrivals this year, although Colombia has welcomed by far the most of any nation.
“Colombian officials had been reluctant to set up refugee-style camps, even while similar sites have been created at Ecuador’s border with Peru and in Brazil,” reported the AP.
According to the United Nations, at least 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled their homeland since 2015 amid an economic, social, and political crisis that has led to violence, hyperinflation, and a severe shortage of food, medicine, sanitation supplies, and other basic goods.