Venezuelans who return due to a pandemic, sometimes treated badly

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About 100,000 Venezuelans who had previously fled their country and are returning are sometimes treated badly when they return and are often quarantined in unsafe and crowded shelters. That is what Human Rights Watch (HRW) and John Hopkins University (JHU) in a report Tuesday.

Five million people fled the country

Many of the refugees worked in the informal sector in other South American countries, such as street food stalls. The corona pandemic and the lockdowns introduced by it in countries such as Peru and Colombia, these people lost their only source of income. In addition, they often do not have legal status in these countries, so they cannot claim care or corona testing.

A large part of them therefore decided in recent months to return to Venezuela, the country they had previously fled due to the bad economic and human rights situation.

According to HRW, they are often taken care of on their return in unsanitary and overcrowded centers. There they sometimes have little access to food, water or medicine. They also have to share rooms with many other people, which makes it difficult to keep a sufficient distance.

According to the JHU, there is a chance that these shelters will contribute to the spread of the corona virus. Researchers from HRW spoke with refugees, who have been quarantined in the centers for much longer than the fourteen days recommended by the WHO health organization.

Venezuela has introduced strict test protocols, which means that in practice people sometimes wait far too long for their test results.

Since 2014, an estimated five million Venezuelans have fled their country. The government Venezuela estimates that more than 130,000 refugees have returned in recent years.

Although the government has always said it will welcome returning refugees, they have been stigmatized in recent months and identified as the cause of the spread of the coronavirus, according to HRW.

The government of Venezuela did not want to comment on the report from HRW and JHU. In the country are according to JHU more than 83,000 infections have been reported. Nearly seven hundred people died from the effects of the virus.

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