Thank you very much to the committee for inviting Amnesty International to discuss Venezuela's human rights crisis and its impact on forced displacement.
As we speak, the human rights crisis in Venezuela persists and continues to deteriorate, as is evidenced by the ever-increasing number of Venezuelans seeking protection in other countries. As of the 5th of November, this number bordered 5.5 million people.
Venezuelans are fleeing in the context of massive human rights violations. However, only 2.5 million have regular migratory status in their host countries, and a much smaller number, 143,000, have been formally recognized as refugees.
Regrettably, some countries in the Americas have failed to comply with international refugee rights established. Countries like Peru, for example, have resorted to increasingly restrictive practices at their borders, while Trinidad and Tobago regularly deports Venezuelans, including children.
In some of the main host countries in Latin America, like Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, 90% of Venezuelan migrants and refugees work in the informal sector without any access to social security for themselves and their families. Given this context, it was not surprising that at the beginning of the pandemic we witnessed tens of thousands of Venezuelans return to their home country, many on foot, because they had lost their jobs, and some were also left homeless. From mid-March to October, it is estimated that over 135,000 people have returned to Venezuela.
But what have they returned to? Unfortunately, many have been forced to stay in state-run quarantine centres. Amnesty International believes that in times of public health emergencies like this one, authorities may legitimately impose quarantines. However, our research has found that in Venezuela many of the warehouses, sports stadiums and other facilities where the government has placed people to complete mandatory state-run quarantines have often been unsanitary or lack basic supplies that could amount to a treatment.
It is now reported that the number of people returning has decreased in the last two months or so, and perhaps surprisingly, given the context, local NGOs are reporting informal crossings along the border with Colombia, meaning that Venezuelans are once again leaving the country.
The humanitarian crisis will continue to worsen. With widespread shortages of essential goods and services—food, health care, water—and high levels of extreme poverty, people will continue to flee their communities. For many, it is the only option to survive.
All of this happens in a context of severe repression, social control and systemic impunity. The United Nations fact-finding mission on Venezuela published a landmark report in September and established that there were reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela since 2014.
Before I conclude, I would like to once again reaffirm the importance of supporting the rights of millions of refugees in the Americas. In the Central America, Mexico and U.S. migration corridor, for example, we have seen entire families, as well as unaccompanied migrant children from Guatemala, Honduras and Salvador, make the dangerous journey to seek protection, only to be detained and deported to the same dangerous communities they tried to flee.
Refugees from Venezuela and from Central America urgently need the support of the international community to ensure that their rights are guaranteed and respected. Human rights crises require humanitarian solutions.