Bogota, Nov 16 (EFE).- The World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank announced Tuesday in Bogota that they will provide loans of more than $800 million to support the social and economic inclusion of Venezuelan migrants in Colombia.
“Today, the IDB and the World Bank are working hand in hand not as competitors but rather as entities who complement one another’s financial efforts and technical cooperation. It’s $800 million in long-term financing at a good rate for the development of a comprehensive public immigration policy,” said Colombian President Ivan Duque during an event at the Casa de Nariño, the seat of the Colombian government.
In that regard, World Bank vice president Carlos Felipe Jaramillo said that “the project approved by the WB directorate for $526 million combines resources from loans ($500 million) with undisbursed resources for an additional $26 million donated by the international community.”
Meanwhile, the IDB will loan Colombia $300 million, to which $17.6 million in undisbursed funds from the Global Financing Mechanism will be added.
“This is a (project) that shows the commitment of two development banks and donor countries working jointly to support the efforts of Colombia to integrate migrants and the host communities,” said IDB vice president for countries Richard Martinez.
The aim of the initiative is to contribute to the effective socio-economic integration of the Venezuelan migrants via expanding the regularization and management of information about this population, improving access to social services, protecting against people smuggling and promoting the recognition of labor abilities.
The program is directed at helping the 1.74 million Venezuelan migrants in Colombia, especially the 983,000 who are estimated to need to get their immigration status regularized.
Colombia has welcomed more than 1.8 million Venezuelans who left their country over the past few years to escape the political, economic and social crisis there.
Last year, Bogota presented the Temporary Protection Status program that will allow Venezuelan migrants to regularize their situation in Colombia for up to 10 years.
Doing this will allow them to gain access to social services, protection and certification of their labor abilities, all of which – according to an IDB study – will help improve their income and access to formal employment.
“We’re aware that Latin America and the Caribbean are going through one of the biggest migration challenges in their history. We’re no longer a region of emigration, as in past years, but rather we’re facing a scenario of much more complex movements for which nobody was prepared,” Martinez said.
The IDB official added that “Despite the difficulties, the response of our countries, with Colombia in the lead, is exemplary.”
In that regard, the World Bank vice president added that “Colombia has taken the necessary measures to transform the migration challenges into opportunities for development for the country and for the communities,” and it has provided to newly arrived migrants not only emergency humanitarian assistance but also access to anti-Covid vaccines.
Given the seriousness of the situation, Duque asked the public not to be indifferent to the more than six million Venezuelans who have left their country “chilled to the bone, hungry, without access to a good healthcare system” and with the single dream of “being welcomed someplace to get started with their lives again.”
“What Colombia has done, welcoming 1.8 million migrants on our territory with Temporary Protection Status is the most important gesture of peace and protection of human rights that a country in our region can provide,” Duque emphasized.
Also participating in the event was the US ambassador in Colombia, Philip Goldberg, who said that “Colombia is a world leader in the management of migration flows and (is setting) an example in the dignified treatment of migrants.”