According to a United Nations report regarding refugees, the number of Venezuelans petitioning for asylum has tripled between 2015 and 2016. The spike in citizens seeking to leave the country is occurring amid rising political and economic problems facing the once wealthy South American country.
In 2016, 34,200 petitions for asylum were filed, up from 10,200 petitions filed in the previous year, 2015. Over half of those filing for political sanctuary applied to enter the United States.
Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations stated: “In Venezuela, we are on the verge of humanitarian crisis. Peaceful protestors have been injured, arrested and even killed by their own government. Medicine is unavailable, hospitals lack supplies, and it’s become difficult to find food.”
This humanitarian crisis, mentioned by Ambassador Haley during a meeting with the UN Security Council, is occurring because of massive human rights violations of political dissidents to the Maduro regime.
Nicolás Maduro has been President of Venezuela since 2013 upon the death of longtime President and dictator, Hugo Chavéz.
The country has been in economic free fall, experiencing inflation of 800% and a 19% decrease in the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in the past fiscal year, according to the central bank of Venezuela, as noted by Reuters.
President Maduro blames the economic situation and subsequent spike in number of individuals wishing to flee the country on an “economic war” led by capitalist adversaries of the socialist nation with the United States’ help.