Wires

Venezuelan migrants will cost host nations $1.35 bln in 2020, U.N. says

BOGOTA, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Healthcare, education, nutrition and other services will cost countries hosting Venezuelan migrants $1.35 billion next year, non-governmental organizations said on Wednesday, as they called for increased donations from the international community.

The request is the most recent of repeated appeals for help for the 4.6 million Venezuelans who have fled widespread shortages of food and medicine in their homeland in recent years.

Colombia has borne the brunt of the exodus. It is now home to more than 1.4 million Venezuelans, many of whom arrived with little money and in desperate need of basic services.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement they will launch a coordination and fundraising effort that they hope will help aid reach migrants in 17 countries.

"Despite many efforts and other initiatives, the dimension of the problem is greater than the current response capacity, so it is necessary that the international community doubles these efforts and contributions to help the countries and international organizations responding to the crisis," said Eduardo Stein, Joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants.

Colombia has repeatedly lamented a lack of funding for Venezuelans, saying other humanitarian crises in Syria, South Sudan and Myanmar have received many times more in donations from the international community.

Care for migrants costs the country around half a percentage point of its gross domestic product, or about $1.5 billion, annually.

The United Nations had called for global donations of $315 million in 2019 to help Colombia, a developing country, cope with the influx, but donations have fallen far short of the target.

Unlike its neighbors, Colombia has not imposed stringent immigration requirements on Venezuelans, instead encouraging migrants who entered the country informally to register with authorities so they can access social services.

The Andean country has also given citizenship to more than 24,000 children born to Venezuelan parents, to prevent them from being stateless. (Reporting by Carlos Vargas; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Richard Chang)