Colombia reports COVID-19 cases in shelters for Venezuelan refugees

By Luis Jaime Acosta ARAUQUITA MUNICIPALITY, Colombia (Reuters) - Colombian health authorities have detected four coronavirus infections in three shelters in Arauquita set up for refugees who have fled clashes between the military and illegal armed groups in Venezuela, the local mayor said on Sunday. Hundreds of Venezuelans are arriving in Colombia each day, worsening a humanitarian crisis spread across 18 makeshift shelters and forcing national, provincial and local authorities to team up with international organizations - such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - to coordinate efforts

Reuters March 29, 2021 00:11:13 IST
Colombia reports COVID-19 cases in shelters for Venezuelan refugees

Colombia reports COVID19 cases in shelters for Venezuelan refugees

By Luis Jaime Acosta

ARAUQUITA MUNICIPALITY, Colombia (Reuters) - Colombian health authorities have detected four coronavirus infections in three shelters in Arauquita set up for refugees who have fled clashes between the military and illegal armed groups in Venezuela, the local mayor said on Sunday.

Hundreds of Venezuelans are arriving in Colombia each day, worsening a humanitarian crisis spread across 18 makeshift shelters and forcing national, provincial and local authorities to team up with international organizations - such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - to coordinate efforts.

"We're already beginning to see a new crisis, which we knew could happen, that the health crisis would begin to appear, with COVID cases that we hope will be controlled quickly and will not overwhelm us," Etelivar Torres, the mayor of Arauquita, told Reuters.

The flow of refugees began a week ago after Venezuela's National Bolivarian Armed Forces (FANB) launched an offensive against illegal armed groups in La Victoria, a Venezuelan town in Apure province that is located across the Arauca River from Arauquita.

Refugees have accused the Venezuelan military of rights abuses, including killing civilians and looting houses.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez denied the accusations of abuses on Saturday, while Venezuela's chief prosecutor Tarek Saab said the events would be subject to an investigation.

While some 4,900 Venezuelan refugees have been registered in Arauquita so far, more are staying with friends and family, Torres said.

"We weren't prepared for something like this," the mayor said.

The UNHCR has started setting up 100 tents on a soccer field to house some 500 people, while the Red Cross is providing medical assistance to refugees.

"There are many needs and we are trying to respond jointly with the authorities at the national, departmental and municipal levels," said Roberto Mignone, the UNHCR's emergency response coordinator in the Americas. He said he expected the emergency would last for several weeks.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Paul Simao)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.