International Migrants Day highlights global displacement crisis

By December 18, 2019

Colombia (MNN) — It’s International Migrants Day, according to the UN calendar.  Officials wrapped up the first-ever Global Refugee Forum in Geneva today.  On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged world leaders to action.

“At this time of turbulence, the international community must do far more to shoulder this responsibility together. It is a moment to build a more equitable response to refugee crises through a sharing of responsibility,” Guterres said.

Venezuelans wade across the Tachira River to seek food and other aid in Cúcuta, Colombia. © UNHCR/Vincent Tremeau

More than 70 million people are displaced worldwide due to war, conflict, and persecution, including 25 million refugees. Over 4.5 million of these refugees and migrants are from Venezuela.

National director Carlos Alvarez says Compassion International, local churches, and a regional response team are working together to help Venezuelan families in Colombia.  On International Migrants Day, he urges believers outside South America to remember Venezuela’s crisis in their prayers.

Helping Venezuelans in Colombia

According to UNHCR, the number of Venezuelans seeking refugee status worldwide rose 8,000% between 2014 and today. Venezuela’s political and economic collapse in recent years drove millions of people into countries throughout the region.

Colombia reportedly holds the most Venezuelan migrants and refugees, with Peru in a close second.  Venezuelan refugees have filed more than 750,000 asylum claims worldwide. Read our coverage of the Venezuela crisis here.

As previously noted, Colombian believers – though desperately poor – do everything they can to extend Christ’s love to their Venezuelan neighbors.  Alvarez sees these demonstrations in several tangible ways. “When [believers] give them a hug every time we come to the project,” he describes as one example.

Displaced Venezuelan teens eat lunch at a Compassion center in Colombia.
(Photo, caption courtesy Compassion International)

On Compassion’s blog, a Venezuelan teen describes how believers’ kindness affected him.

“When the Church is singing together, worshiping together, they (refugees) experience the love of Christ.”

This feeling of community extends beyond the church walls.  As part of Compassion’s program, Colombian and Venezuelan children play and learn together on a daily basis. “Right now, we have almost 1,400 registered children that are under 12 years old. They have been getting into the programmatic activities of church partners in Cúcuta,” Alvarez says.

Believers help Venezuelan mothers, too, he adds.  According to U.S. News & World Report, moms in late-term pregnancy increasingly cross into Colombia to deliver their babies. “37 pregnant mothers are receiving some support from our local churches,” Alvarez says.

Next steps

Children learn soccer skills at their child development center.
(Photo, caption courtesy Compassion International)

January 2020 will mark one year since Juan Guaidó came to power, but there’s still no end to Venezuela’s crisis in sight.  You can help Venezuelan families by giving to Compassion’s Disaster Relief Fund.  Most importantly, pray.

“Keep praying for Venezuela, that God can change things there,” Alvarez urges.  Find more prayer prompts listed alongside this article.

“We are also praying for the families that are coming in – that they can get their support – but especially that they can feel someone from another country [is] receiving them as family.”



Header image courtesy of Compassion International.

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