The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that thousands of pregnant Venezuelans have left the country to protect the lives of their babies.
The data are from the Venezuelan government itself and frighten by the size: between 2015 and 2016 maternal deaths grew 65% in the country. Infant mortality after six days of birth increased by 53%. A humanitarian drama directly related to the shortage of medicines, equipment and personnel in hospitals in Venezuela.
Fearing for the lives of their babies, thousands of Venezuelan pregnant women hit the road and fled the country, according to UNHCR data. They did not have adequate prenatal treatment and feared the worst.
Roxibel Pulido, 29, is one of the cases mentioned in the UN agency report released today. She was three months pregnant with her third child when she learned that the hospital closest to her neighborhood in the city of Maracaibo had been closed. "The hospital was under investigation because three newborn babies had died due to lack of a generator," says Roxibel. She believes that "if there were any complications," the hospital could not help her and her baby would die. "It's a very bad time to be a pregnant woman" in the country, says Roxibel, adding that many women "flee for love of their unborn babies."
Together with his two other sons, Roxibel arrived in Maicao, a Colombian city near the northern border with Venezuela. According to Acnur, Colombia is the country with the largest number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, with over 1.3 million.
Colombia's national registry estimates that some 23,000 children born of Venezuelan parents are waiting to receive Colombian nationality. The problem is that
To obtain citizenship, the Colombian Constitution stipulates that at least one parent must be Colombian or, if this is not the case, at least one parent must have a work or temporary visa in the country. Many Venezuelans struggle to achieve it.
The Colombian government is working with partners to resolve the situation and prevent future cases of children at risk of being stateless.
More than 1,000 Venezuelans in San Jose
According to the coordinator of Gynecology and Obstetrics of the Colombian public hospital San Jose, Zela Cuello, more than 1,000 Venezuelan women were treated there in the first quarter of 2019. The representative said the team gives "full and preferential attention to all pregnant women, regardless of nationality."
One of the women seen at the hospital in Maicao was 23-year-old Yorgelis Garcia, who fled Venezuela a week before giving birth. Desperate for food and medical care, she and her husband used dangerous informal crossings to reach Colombia.
Yorgelis says that "it was a difficult trip" and that her husband had to carry his two-year-old son and make sure she "didn't fall on the ground." The Venezuelan, who had a girl and is now living in the UNHCR's reception center, says she is "very grateful to Colombia and the medical attention" she received in the country.
After spending two months on the streets, Roxibel and her children found safety in the new UN agency reception center, which temporarily houses up to 350 vulnerable Venezuelans, mostly women and children.
At the center, a nurse assessed the health of Roxibel and her baby, a basic check up that the pregnant woman could never do before in her country.