On 8 February 2021, Colombian President Iván Duque announced that the country would give protected status to almost one million undocumented Venezuelan migrants present in the country, a move that contrasted sharply with the government’s previous declarations opposing vaccinations for undocumented migrants. President Duque said that the protective status would last 10 years, enabling migrants to “normalise” their situations in the country. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees described the move as an “historic gesture” and “an example to the region and the rest of the whole world.” The measure will enable undocumented Venezuelan nationals to apply for temporary protected status, allowing them to work, seek permanent residency, and obtain access to health services in the country.
The new measure will now also allow Venezuelan migrants to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. In his announcement on 8 February, Duque urged the international community to help fund vaccination efforts for migrants. Colombia has been hard-hit by the pandemic. As of February 2021, it had recorded over 2.1 million cases of COVID-19 and almost 57,000 related deaths related. (For more information about Colombia, see the GDP’s December 2020 Colombia country report: “Immigration Detention in Colombia: At the Crossroads of the Americas,” https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/americas/colombia).
- BBC News, “Colombia to Grant Legal Status to Venezuelan Migrants,” 9 February 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-55991551
- J. Parkin Daniels, “Alarm at Colombian Plan to Exclude Migrants from Coronavirus Vaccine,” The Guardian, 22 December 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/dec/22/colombia-coronavirus-vaccine-migrants-venezuela-ivan-duque
- J. Parkin Daniels, “I can Rebuild a Real Life: Colombia to Grant Legal Status to Venezuelan Migrants,” The Guardian, 11 February 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/feb/11/i-can-build-a-real-life-colombia-to-grant-legal-status-to-venezuelan-migrants
- Global Detention Project, “Colombia Immigration Detention Profile,” December 2020, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/americas/colombia#country-report
- Beritza Colina, who travelled from Caracas to Bogotá, Waits with her Children to be Evacuated at a Clinic for Migrants, (Joe Parkin Daniels, “‘I can build a real life’: Colombia to grant legal status to Venezuelan migrants,” The Guardian, 11 February 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/feb/11/i-can-build-a-real-life-colombia-to-grant-legal-status-to-venezuelan-migrants)