Flood of Venezuela migrants costing Colombia 0.5% of GDP: president

Bogota (AFP) –


Venezuela's migrant crisis is costing neighboring Colombia about 0.5 percent of GDP -- or around $1.3 billion -- its President Ivan Duque said Friday after talks with a top World Bank official.

Duque said Colombia would continue its "open arms" policy towards migrants from its crisis-worn neighbor but the economic and social costs on his country had to be evaluated.

"The economic impact that the migration crisis may have can be of the order of 0.5 percent of GDP and obviously we want ot look at how that is reflected in health, in education, in infrastructure, in many public assets," the president said.

Duque was speaking after talks in Bogota with the World Bank's vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jorge Familiar.

Familiar said the bank would deliver a detailed report on the social impact of the crisis on Colombia in a few weeks.

Duque said it would "serve to guide" his government in dealing with the crisis.

The UN says 2.3 million Venezuelans are living outside the country, with 1.6 million having fled since 2015. An estimated 90 percent have fled to other Latin American countries.

Colombia has taken in more than a million Venezuelans.

Familiar praised Colombia's leadership in the migration crisis, but said "this is a regional issue that will require a regional response."

Duque's administration, like that of his predecessor Juan Manuel Santos, has branded Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a dictator.

Oil income-dependent Venezuela's economic woes began in 2014 with the crash in the price of crude.