Venezuelan migrant Andres Marquez gets ready to go to school at a temporary shelter in the San Juan de Lurigancho district of Lima, Peru, this week. Reuters
Venezuela’s government said on Monday that migratory patterns out of the Opec nation are “normal” and that the situation was being exaggerated to justify an intervention by foreign powers.

The UN’s migration agency said last month the exodus of citizens out of Venezuela, which is suffering a hyper-inflationary economic collapse, is nearing a “crisis moment” comparable to the situation of refugees in the Mediterranean.

“There has been an intent to convert a normal migratory flow into a humanitarian crisis in order to justify an international intervention in Venezuela,” vice-president Delcy Rodriguez told a news conference. “We will not allow it.”

She criticised foreign agencies for relying on figures of Venezuelan emigration provided by other countries but did not provide Venezuela’s own figures.

The UN migration and refugees organisations said in a joint statement in August that 2.3million Venezuelans are living abroad and that more than 1.6million have left since 2015.

President Nicolas Maduro said in a televised broadcast on Monday that opposition street protests and US financial sanctions had led some Venezuelans to “try their luck” in other countries but many were reconsidering that decision.

“More than 90% are regretting it, of this group that isn’t more than 600000 Venezuelans who have left the country in the last two years, according to confirmed, certified serious figures,” he said.

Images of Venezuelans leaving the country on foot through Colombia to escape hyperinflation and food shortages have sent alarm bells through the region as countries such as Ecuador, Peru and Chile seek to prepare for the growing flow of migrants.

Venezuelan officials have described such scenes as having been staged by the media and political adversaries to tarnish Maduro. The government announced last month it had repatriated 89 Venezuelans from Peru after they complained of being humiliated.

Migration officials from countries around South America began a two-day meeting in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito, on Monday to discuss regional strategies for managing the influx of migrants.

Colombia, Peru and Ecuador asked on Thursday for international aid to manage the migration surge that is overwhelming public services. Reuters