Venezuela plans to reopen borders with Colombia

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accompanied by Colombian President Ivan Duque talks with Venezuelan refugees during a visit to the Transitional Attention for the Migrant Office in Cucuta Norte del Santander Department Colombia on the borde

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Three months after violent clashes broke out at the Colombia-Venezuela border, followed by the opposition's attempt to smuggle in 'aid, ' Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered border crossings to be partially reopened.

The borders with Colombia, Brazil and Dutch Antilles islands were closed as the opposition organised the delivery of foreign aid, which was denounced by Mr Maduro as part of an effort to remove him. Maduro denied that a humanitarian crisis exists in Venezuela and suggested that aid efforts are part of a USA plot to orchestrate a coup.

Maduro had closed borders with Colombia, Brazil and Dutch Antilles islands as opposition leader Juan Guaido prepared to bring in US -backed humanitarian aid. "We are a peaceful people who firmly defend our independence and self-determination".

Many Venezuelans cross the frontier illegally every day to get supplies because of the serious shortage of basic necessities.

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Maduro's announcement caused worry in Colombia, Rampietti said, with "a number of mayors and governors of Colombian regions on the border called for a national security meeting, fearing an increase in the pace of the exodus of Venezuelans".

Chile, Ecuador, Brazil and Argentina host hundreds of thousands, while Central American and Caribbean states have also taken in significant amounts of people from Venezuela.

On Friday, UN aid agencies said four million Venezuelan refugees and migrants have fled the economic and humanitarian crisis in their homeland - all but 700,000 of them since the end of 2015.

Maduro announced on Friday that the border with Colombia, which has remained closed since late February, will be reopened in western Tachira State on Saturday. So far, only 21 per cent of the needed 738 million dollars have been funded by donor countries.

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Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, who is special envoy for the UNHCR, on Saturday urged the worldwide community to provide more support for Colombia, Peru and Ecuador - the three South American countries with most migrants from Venezuela. The chaos has been further aggravated by USA sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports and has forced an estimated 5,000 people to leave the country each day, according to the United Nation's refugee agency.

Speaking in Colombia, the 44-year-old star urged the worldwide community to come to the aid of the South American county before adding that 20,000 Venezuelan children were at risk of being without basic citizenship rights.

Duque said that during the meeting with Jolie and UNHCR officials, both sides discussed steps that could be taken to facilitate the integration of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Colombia, including legislation to grant Colombian nationality to thousands of children of Venezuelan migrants who have been born in Colombia and are now stateless.

Dozens of countries around the world recognise Guaido as interim president, saying Maduro rigged his 2018 re-election, but their support has not been enough to unseat Maduro, who still has the backing of the top military brass.

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