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Ecuador declares state of emergency over Venezuela migrant influx

More than 4,000 migrants are arriving in Ecuador each day in an attempt to flee the ongoing crises in Venezuela.

 Venezuelan migrants

Ecuador has declared a state of emergency in three northern states after a large influx of migrants from crisis-ridden Venezuela entered the country via Colombia.

The move is intended to help establish the infrastructure to support the new arrivals, who do not have humanitarian refugee status in Ecuador, as they do in some other Latin American countries.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility said in a statement on Wednesday that in recent days, the number of Venezuelans arriving daily had risen to 4,200 and a contingency plan is needed to assist them.

Santiago Chavez, the vice minister of human mobility, said the plan would "give an effective and forceful response in benefit of the preservation of those entering Ecuadorian territory". 

As part of the contingency plan, extra immigration officials will be hired and more doctors, social workers and psychologists will be sent to the Carchi, Pinchincha and El Oro provinces along Ecuador's border with Colombia, to assist sick and vulnerable migrants.

International aid organisations will also assist in the efforts by providing tents, water and food. 

This is the first time a state of emergency has been declared in these provinces. It will stay in place until at least the end of August.

Special measures

A number of Latin American countries are introducing special measures to cope with migration from Venezuela, which is led by President Nicolas Maduro and is suffering from ongoing political, social and economic crises.

In August, former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, granted 440,000 Venezuelan refugees temporary residency permits, which allow them to study, work and get medical care in Colombia. 

Brazil declared a state of emergency in May and briefly closed its northern border with Venezuela on Tuesday. 

Argentina has taken in some 31,167 Venezuelans under a law that allows foreign nationals to remain in the country "when there are exceptional reasons of a humanitarian nature".

Uncertainty in the country 

Meanwhile, Venezuela's pro-Maduro Constituent Assembly revoked the immunity of opposition lawmakers Julio Borges and Juan Requesens for allegedly masterminding what the president called an assassination attempt against him.

Requesens was seized by intelligence officers overnight, while Venezuela's Supreme Court ordered Borges' arrest.

Maduro said in a broadcast that Borges was living in neighbouring Colombia.

A drone loaded with explosives on Saturday detonated near a military event where Maduro was giving a speech. The president escaped unharmed but seven people were wounded.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab said moves were being made to put Requesens on trial, while Maduro is pressing Colombia and the US to extradite opposition figures, including Borges.

Borges, who on Tuesday attended the swearing-in of Colombia's new president, Ivan Duque, called Maduro's accusation against him "a farce."

Translation: Nicolas Maduro you have accused me of the economic war, of the cash crisis, of the hyperinflation, of the generalised scarcity.. And now of the farce of the attack?  You do not cheat anyone. You are the only one to blame for the tragedy of the country, Borges wrote in Twitter. 

These events came as Venezuela's economy continue to struggle, the International Monetary Fund projects inflation could top 1 million percent this year.

The currency has fallen 99.99 percent against the US dollar on the black market since Maduro came to power in April 2013.

Many Venezuelans are choosing to leave their country as the recession is now entering its fifth year. 

Maduro blames the crisis on an economic war led by opposition leaders with the help of Washington, which last year levied several rounds of sanctions against his administration.


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