COLOMBIA / VENEZUELA REFUGEES

05-Apr-2019 00:01:00
Thousands of Venezuelans forced their way across the Simon Bolivar bridge into Colombia on Tuesday (3 Apr), after rising waters in the Tachira river below made wading across the border especially dangerous. The bridge, which connects San Antonio de Tachira in Venezuela and Cúcuta in Colombia, had been closed since February. UNHCR
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STORY: COLOMBIA / VENEZUELA REFUGEES
TRT: 1:00
SOURCE: UNHCR
RESTRICTIONS: PLEASE CREDIT UNHCR ON SCREEN
LANGUAGE: NATS

DATELINE: 3 APRIL 2019, CUCUTA, COLOMBIA
SHOTLIST
1. Wide shot, Venezuelans crossing Rio Tàchira with the help of a rope into Colombia
2. Close-up, woman and her child crossing Rio Tàchira assisted my the Colombian Guardia Civil.
3. Wide shot, Venezuelans crossing Rio Tàchira via makeshift bridge
4. Aerial shot, people crossing makeshift bridges
5. Wide shot, people crowded on Simon Bolivar bridge between Colombia and Venezuela
6. Various shots, crowd on on Simon Bolivar bridge between Colombia and Venezuela
7. Close up, Venezuelan woman crying and drinking water
STORYLINE
Thousands of Venezuelans forced their way across the Simon Bolivar bridge into Colombia on Tuesday (3 Apr), after rising waters in the Tachira river below made wading across the border especially dangerous. The bridge, which connects San Antonio de Tachira in Venezuela and Cúcuta in Colombia, had been closed since February.

Amid spiralling hyperinflation, shortages, political turmoil, violence and persecution, more than 2.7 million Venezuelans have left the country as refugees or migrants since 2015 to seek safety or a better life abroad. Most of the estimated 46,000 Venezuelans cross everyday into Colombia but return to their country, but up to 5,000 of them remain in Colombia or continue their journeys in search of safety and a new life in other Latin American countries such as Ecuador, Peru and Chile.

The Simon Bolivar bridge that links Venezuela with Colombia has been closed since February when the Venezuelan security forces blocked a US-backed effort to bring hundreds of tonnes of humanitarian aid into the country. Venezuelans desperate to reach Colombia in search of food, medicines and work have been wading across the Tachira River. This week the river, swollen by heavy rains, became too dangerous to cross, leading to people to force their way onto the bridge.

Security forces on both sides of the border are struggled to control the situation as people, desperate to obtain food or medicine, overturned crowd-control barriers. In the melee, crying babies, distressed small children, exhausted pregnant women, elderly people and people with disabilities, found themselves at risk of being crushed, suffocated or trampled by the crowd. Fortunately, no casualties were reported.

The next day, a UNHCR team observed hundreds of Venezuelans crossing the river on improvised rafts or grasping ropes thrown across the foaming current. By Wednesday the current of the Tachira River had temporarily subsided. With the onset of the rainy season, crossing the river by foot will continue to be highly dangerous.

Last year, more than a quarter of a million Venezuelans filed asylum claims, mostly in Latin America. In addition, an estimated 1.3 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants have benefitted from other legal forms of stay in Latin America. However, many Venezuelans remain in an irregular situation, which does not guarantee them access to basic rights and puts them at risk of exploitation and abuse.
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