- Title: VENEZUELA-COLOMBIA/DEPORTATIONS Colombia decries increase in deportations
- Date: 25th August 2015
- Summary: TACHIRA, VENEZUELA (AUGUST 24, 2015) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PEOPLE CROSSING BORDER FROM COLOMBIA TO VENEZUELA BUS CARRYING PEOPLE CROSSING BORDER PEOPLE DISEMBARKING FROM BUS TO CROSS BORDER VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WAITING TO CROSS BORDER SOLDIERS AT BORDER
- Embargoed: 9th September 2015 13:00
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA7Z048S5R2DPFVRYC498LWVGQZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDIT CONTAINS VIDEO THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Venezuela has intensified deportations of Colombians since President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of two border crossings last week, Colombia's migration office said on Monday (August 24), in some cases separating children from their parents.
Since the border crossings were closed last week, 661 Colombians have been deported and 124 minors have been repatriated, sometimes being separated from their parents. Legally, children cannot be deported, so their movements are described by authorities as repatriation.
"I want to once again reiterate Colombia's disapproval of the border closures. We are convinced that closing the border won't help the two countries fight against contraband. What it is doing, as you have seen, is creating a difficult situation for the residents who live on either side of the border," said Colombia's Foreign Minister, Maria Angela Holguin.
Maduro closed the crossings after a shootout between smugglers and troops left three soldiers wounded. He later declared a 60-day state of emergency in five border municipalities.
Some five million Colombians live in Venezuela. Dozens of them returned to Colombia voluntarily over the weekend, according to officials and news reports.
Luis Almagro, secretary general of the multi-lateral Organization of American States, urged dialogue between the neighbouring countries to resolve the situation.
"We think that direct dialogue between the two countries is fundamental to resolve this issue," said Almagro, who was in Bogota to meet with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Expulsions, deportations and repatriations of Colombians from Venezuela have more than doubled this year to 3,800, officials from Migration Colombia told Reuters, from 1,820 in 2014.
This Colombian woman said she was forced to leave everything behind when she was deported in the early morning hours.
"They kicked us out at 5 in the morning, they kicked us out like dogs, they didn't let us take anything, they didn't even let us bathe. They said 'let's go, leave, get out of here' (in reference to what the Venezuelan military told them). I lost everything, even my clothes - we left without a thing," she said.
The porous 2,219-kilometer (1,379-mile) border shared by the two countries is frequently traversed by smugglers and illegal armed groups.
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