Thousands Flee Venezuela As Country's Economic Crisis Explodes
Venezuelans are trying to enter Colombia to escape
Thousands of Venezuelans are making a desperate bid to escape the country and enter Colombia in an attempt to escape the hunger and exploding economic crisis in Venezuela.
The shocking images reveal the mass exodus of refugees crossing the Simon Bolivar international bridge as they flee the extremely dire political crisis that is swelling the country.
In response to the migration, neighboring Columbia has deployed thousands of soldiers to the border after officially taking in more than half a million migrants over the last 6 months of 2017.
The DailyMail reports: The dire economic conditions have led to lawlessness in parts of Venezuela's capital Caracas, with truck drivers subjected to 'Mad Max' violence as looters target heavy goods vehicles carrying food.
According to Reuters, there were 162 lootings across Venezuela in January, including 42 robberies of trucks.
That is compared to just eight lootings, including one truck robbery, 12 months ago.
Last month, eight people were killed in lootings.
Venezuela has one of the world's highest murder rates and the attacks are pushing up food and transport costs.
The truckers are not allowed to carry guns so have resorted to forming convoys to protect themselves. They text each other warnings about potential trouble spots and keep moving as fast as possible.
Massive numbers of Venezuelans have been driven from their homes by a dire financial crisis that has seen many struggling to feed themselves.
In a visit to a border city at the epicenter of Colombia's mounting migration crisis, President Juan Manuel Santos on Thursday announced new measures that could make it more difficult for Venezuelan migrants to cross into the country illegally or remain there without any official status.
'Colombia has never lived a situation like the one we are encountering today,' Santos said.
Migration into Colombia has surged as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has moved to consolidate his rule and the nation's economy plummets.
Colombia migration authorities say there are an estimated 600,000 Venezuelans currently in Colombia - double the number six months ago.
Venezuela exile associations and some border city officials have said they believe that number is higher.
The unprecedented migration wave is putting strains on Colombia at a delicate time in its history.
The nation is crawling out of a five-decade-long armed conflict following the signing of a peace deal with leftist rebels in 2016. Many of the Venezuelans are arriving illegally and in need of medical attention.
'This is a tragedy,' Santos said. 'And I want to reiterate to President Maduro: This is the result of your policies.'
More than 2,000 additional military officers will be deployed to control the hundreds of dirt-road crossings known as 'trochas' that dot Colombia's 1,370-mile (2,200-kilometer) border with Venezuela.
A new migration patrol unit will also police public spaces where Venezuelan arrivals congregate, provide them orientation and to control issues like prostitution that have surfaced in the migration wave's wake.