Venezuela to protect Colombian refugees

17:47, July 30, 2010      

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The Venezuelan government will protect Colombian refugees currently living in Venezuela despite its diplomatic spat with Colombia, the Venezuelan National Commission for Refugees said Thursday.

Idelfonso Finol, president of the commission, said his country broke off relations "with the Colombian government, not the Colombian people." He said that Venezuelans and Colombians were brothers sharing a common cultural and historical heritage.

On July 22, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez severed diplomatic ties with Colombia, which shares a 2,120-km border with Venezuela, after Bogota accused Caracas of harboring Colombian guerilla chiefs on its soil, a charge vehemently denied by Venezuela.

Some 350 Colombian citizens enter Venezuela every day to escape Colombia's guerillas, paramilitary activities, terrorism and drug trafficking, according to the Association of Colombians in Venezuela.

Over four million Colombians living in Venezuela have the same rights to "food, health, education, and living in peace" as Venezuelan citizens, Finol told the state-owned news agency Agencia Venezolana de Noticias.

On Thursday, Venezuelan Trade Minister Richard Canan and Food Minister Carolos Osorio said the government will guarantee the food supplies in the states bordering Colombia, including Tachira, Zulia and Apure states.

"We promise security and food to Colombian refugees," Osorio said, adding that there has been business as usual in the border areas.

Source: Xinhua


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