Venezuelan migrants wait at an immigration control point on the Ecuador-Peru border, before the end of a special visa program and tightened entry requirements that demand passports, in Tumbes, Peru, June 14, 2019. Peru unexpectedly became the country with the second-highest number of asylum requests globally last year. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

UN: Venezuelans now file 1 in 5 of all new asylum claims

June 19, 2019 - 12:48 pm

LIMA, Peru (AP) — A United Nations report has found that Venezuelans represent the largest group worldwide filing new asylum claims.

The report released Wednesday says that those fleeing the troubled South American nation made more than one in five of all asylum requests in 2018. That's higher than the number of claims made by people escaping Afghanistan and Syria.

But Venezuela is not in the midst of war and many foreign governments are reluctant to recognize the migrants as refugees.

Venezuelan asylum seeker Johan Álvarez said: "It's not a war of arms," but a war of "survival."

The United Nations estimates there are now 4 million Venezuelans living abroad — a quarter of whom have fled since November. The Organization of American States estimates the number could reach 7.5 million by the end of 2020.

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