QUITO – Ecuador’s acting foreign minister, Andres Teran, inaugurated on Monday a regional meeting called by Quito to exchange experiences and views on migration issues and analyze mechanisms to deal with the “historic” flow of Venezuelans affected by the worsening crisis in their homeland.
Thirteen countries in the region – although not Venezuela – are taking part in the “Regional Meeting on Human Mobility of Venezuelan Citizens in the Americas,” which will end on Tuesday.
At the gathering, it is expected that the participating nations will exchange information, criticism, experiences and other knowledge with an eye toward “trying to harmonize responses” in Latin America and the Caribbean in the face of the “considerable and unusual increase in the migration flow of Venezuelans,” Teran said.
He noted that the region is currently facing a migration crisis stemming from the heavy flow of Venezuelans forced to flee their country by the severe social, economic and political crisis there.
According to International Organization for Migration and UN Refugee Agency figures, almost 2.5 million Venezuelans have left their country over the past four years.
Teran added that the Venezuelan migration crisis has become “particularly serious” in 2018.
The acting foreign minister, who is filling in for Foreign Minister Jose Valencia, who is on an official visit to Japan, said that since 2014 more than a million Venezuelan migrants have entered Ecuador, with some 600,000 arriving this year alone.
From 2014 to the present, he said, Ecuador has granted 90,000 visas to Venezuelans.
The UN representative in Ecuador, Arnaul Peral, hailed Quito’s decision to convene the conference, expressing his hope that the participating nations will work to ensure better conditions and agreements to guarantee the protection of human rights for migrating groups, including specific protections for children.
He added that he hoped the gathering would reach agreements to fight against discrimination and xenophobia, among other things.