Colombia will temporarily normalize the status of almost one million undocumented Venezuelan migrants, President Ivan Duque said on Monday during a visit by the UN Refugee Agency.
Some 56 percent — around 950,000 — of the 1.7 million Venezuelans to have arrived in Colombia fleeing economic and political crises in their homeland are undocumented and will benefit from the measure.
“We’ve published the decision of our country to create a temporary protected status in Colombia that allows us to normalize these migrants in our country,” Duque said, alongside UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
The migrants will benefit from a 10-year protection, giving them time to apply for a residence visa if they wish to stay in the country.
According to the UN, 34 percent of the 5.4 million Venezuelans who have fled the country since 2015 are in Colombia, which has no diplomatic relations with its neighbor.
The process will begin with the registration of the undocumented migrants that will include their place of residence and socioeconomic conditions, while they will also be included in a “biometric register,” said Duque.
The president came under fire in December when announcing that undocumented Venezuelans would not be included in Colombia’s immunization process against the novel coronavirus, due to begin on February 20.