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People cross into Colombia as Venezuela reopens border
International

People cross into Colombia as Venezuela reopens border

Agency News

Caracas, June 9: Thousands of people from Venezuela crossed the border with Colombia after Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro ordered to open it for the first time in the past four months.

Announcing the reopening of the border with Colombia on Twitter, Maduro on Saturday wrote, 'We're a people of peace that strongly defends our independence and self-determination".

Earlier, the crossing was closed in February at President Nicolás Maduro's request as opposition leader Juan Guaidó prepared to bring in US-backed humanitarian aid.

As a result, the country has faced shortages of basic supplies due to severe years-long economic crisis. According to UN agencies, more than four million people have fled Venezuela since 2015. More than 30,000 Venezuelans arrived on Saturday, with almost 37,000 leaving by the end of the day, Colombia's foreign ministry said.

The closures had caused problems for towns along the border that have come to rely on Colombian cities for essential products and services, and many people have crossed illegally and were forced to pay tolls to criminals controlling passage.
The crisis in Venezuela deepened in January after Mr Guaidó, head of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president, arguing that Mr Maduro's re-election last year had been 'illegitimate'.

Since then, he has been recognised by more than 50 countries, including the US and most of Latin America.
However, Maduro retains the loyalty of most of the military and important allies such as China and Russia.

Meanwhile, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, special envoy for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), said there was an urgent need for the international community to give greater support to Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, the three countries with the most Venezuelans refugees.

After meeting with Colombia's President Ivan Duque in Cartagena, she warned that more than 20,000 Venezuelan children, born abroad to displaced families, were at risk of statelessness as their parents were struggling to obtain the necessary documents.
UNI