Church in Colombia aids 5,000 Venezuelan emigrants a day

Colombian priests serving meals to Venezuelan emigrants. Credit: Bishops' Conference of Colombia.
Colombian priests serving meals to Venezuelan emigrants. Credit: Bishops' Conference of Colombia.

.- The Church in Colombia is assisting some 5,000 Venezuelan migrants a day, the president of the country's bishops' conference announced Tuesday.

Venezuela is suffering a years-long economic crisis which has caused 2.3 million people to emigrate since 2014.

“An average 5,000 people daily are being served with food and hydration, and in some cases with supplies of clothing, medicine, and personal hygiene items. The Church is doing this with the support of businesses and local, national, and international organizations,” Archbishop Oscar Urbina Ortega said Oct. 2.

Archbishop Urbina spoke during the 2018 Faith Cup in the course of a visit made by more than 600 priests participating in the soccer tournament to the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, an important border crossing between Colombia and Venezuela.

The priests also visited the Divine Providence Home, where meals are provided for Venezuelan migrants.

Archbishop Urbina reiterated that the Church in Colombia suffers “this time of so much pain” along with the migrants, and at the same time is “committed to providing them the aid that encourages them to carry on in the daily struggle to rebuild the social fabric of their country.”

He also recalled that the Colombian bishops' conference has called for better aid and care from the international community regarding the migration problem.

“Given the exacerbation of the problem the Church will continue to raise its voice, making it known that much more is needed, much more aid and it is necessary to back away from saber rattling and armies marching along the border areas.”

Finally, Archbishop Urbina pointed out that the demand for public services, education, and health care has increased due to the lack of necessary resources.

Since Nicolas Maduro succeeded Hugo Chávez as president of Venezuela in 2013, the country has been marred by violence and social upheaval.

Poor economic policies, including strict price controls, coupled with high inflation rates, have resulted in a severe lack of basic necessities such as toilet paper, milk, flour, diapers and medicines.

Venezuela's socialist government is widely blamed for the crisis. Since 2003, price controls on some 160 products, including cooking oil, soap and flour, have meant that while they are affordable, they fly off store shelves only to be resold on the black market at much higher rates.

Inflation in Venezuela may reach 1 million percent this year.

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.