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About 24,000 Venezuelan children soon naturalized Colombian
Child Venezuelan born in Cucuta (Colombia) whose footprint was taken for his birth certificate on May 2nd. Fernando Vergara / AP

All children born in Colombia of Venezuelan parents since August 19, 2015 will be naturalized Colombian. The measure was announced on Tuesday 6 August in Bogota by President Ivan Duque. It should benefit more than 24,000 children born on Colombian soil, at risk of statelessness. She is "Temporary and exceptional", the head of state said, recalling that Colombia is facing an imminent migratory challenge. According to the UN, some 3.7 million Venezuelans have left their country, broken by shortages of food and medicine. Colombia hosts 1.4 million. More than half are in an irregular situation.

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"By adopting this resolution that grants nationality to 24,000 children, Colombia shows the world that, despite its budget constraints and per capita income of $ 8,000 a year – less than that of the European countries â € "she knows how to be fraternal and supportive", declared Mr. Duque. He pointed out that "The fundamental rights of children can be better guaranteed, such as access to public services in health and education". The presidential decision will come into effect on August 20 for two years and may be extended, given the evolution of the situation in the neighboring country. "We let our brothers and sisters know that they can count on us," concluded President Duque.

Colombia recognizes the right of the soil to children born to foreign parents legally resident in the Colombian territory, a difficult condition to fulfill for Venezuelan migrants fleeing the crisis. Their children are entitled to Venezuelan law since Venezuela recognizes – as Colombia – the right of blood. "But the Bolivarian Republic has not taken over for months its consular responsibilities in matters of civil status," explains an official from the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The break in diplomatic relations between the two countries, decided in February by President Nicolas Maduro (after Colombia has openly sided with its rival, the opponent Juan Guaido), has further complicated the situation. There is no Venezuelan consulate in Colombia and children born on this side of the border can not obtain a birth certificate, passport or passport. identity card. "They are technically stateless," summarizes the lawyer Alejandro Ruiz.

"A first step"

"Colombia has opted for the naturalization of Venezuelan children after they have found insurmountable obstacles so that they can obtain the Venezuelan nationality. ian  " explains the Bogota report. Formally, Venezuelan children already benefit from the right to education and health, recognized by the Colombian state to all minors. irrespective of their nationality. But, in fact, the situation of this child population often remains very precarious. "Their naturalization is not going to settle everything, but it's a first step," sighs Mr. Ruiz.

"The measure announced was very much awaited, continues this specialist on migration issues. President Ivan Duque presents it as a concession to migrants, as an act of generosity. However, the Colombian state only respects its international and constitutional obligations. AT" Law 43 of 1993 stipulates that children of foreign parents born on Colombian soil to whom no state recognizes nationality will be Colombian, without being required to prove that they are Colombian. their domiciliation.

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The United Nations, which had expressed concern about the children of migrants becoming stateless, rejoiced at the naturalization of small Venezuelans, a measure "Consistent with the principle of the best interests of children". All organizations hosting migrants and defending their rights also applauded the government decision. No party or political personality has criticized it. Venezuela had once welcomed hundreds of thousands of Colombian migrants, and the official discourse, which emphasizes a bond of solidarity with a brother country, is a consensus on the national political scene.

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