Findings on Colombia-Venezuela Border Migration Highlighted in UN Migration Agency Study

Integrated Border Management, Migration Research

Colombia - The UN Migration Agency (IOM) and the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week published results of a study carried out in official and unofficial border crossing points between Colombia and Venezuela in the municipalities of Cucuta, Villa del Rosario and Arauca.

The study, carried out in late 2016 through the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), is a pilot which sought to analyze who crosses the border and why, in order to provide a better understanding of the characteristics of current migration flows between Venezuela and Colombia.

The information for the study was gathered from local authorities and institutions as well as the affected population and the results include the profile, motivations and intentions of those entering Colombia.

Some key findings include:

·         67 per cent of people who crossed the border and are currently staying in the three municipalities (Cucuta, Villa del Rosario and Arauca) are Colombians (including people of dual nationality), while 33 per cent are Venezuelans.

·         Of those interviewed while crossing the border (majority Venezuelan), 69 per cent indicated that they intend to return to Venezuela the same day. Another 23 per cent indicated an intention to return within the following months, and only 5 per cent expressed their intention to stay in Colombia. Another 3 per cent indicated that they were passing through Colombia to reach a third country.

·         Reasons for traveling to Colombia include the purchase of goods such as food, household items, hygiene products and medicine (52 per cent), family visits (17 per cent), work (14 per cent), tourism (5 per cent), schooling (2 percent) and others (10 per cent).

·         Of the 14 per cent indicating that they were entering the country to work, intended areas of employment included services (41 per cent), commerce (24 cent), industry (11 per cent), transport (8 per cent), construction (6 per cent) , financial services (3 per cent) and communications (2 per cent).

The study also assessed the situation of Colombian returnees and incoming Venezuelan population in 47 spontaneous sites, finding a high presence of minors (49 per cent), which highlights the importance of implementing public policies to safeguard their rights especially with regards to health, education and protection.

According to information gathered by Migración Colombia from 1 May 2017 to date, the vast majority of 455,094 registered Venezuelan nationals stated that they only intended to enter Colombia temporarily, and that over 50 per cent of them entered the country’s border zone to buy supplies.

The Director of Migración Colombia, Christian Krüger emphasized that people cross the border including up to several times a day without intending to stay, while having a reason or need to come to Colombia periodically.

IOM Colombia Programs Director Fernando Calado underlined that the border is over 2,000 kilometers long and therefore it is very difficult to know how many irregular border crossing points exist. Calado also stressed the need to work on public policies that prevent xenophobia and help to integrate people who return, when they are co-nationals, as well as a solidary integration of the migrant population.

Following the implementation of the DTM pilot project, IOM is currently setting up a second phase of the exercise, to be implemented between July and September 2017 with increased coverage extending to Colombia’s northeastern border and Caribbean coast. The aim is to provide a more in-depth view of the situation and needs of recent arrivals to the country, in order to inform public policies as well as strategic decision-making that ensures adequate and timely responses that meet the rights and needs of the affected population.

Download the presentation with the main results of the study:

Watch press conference:

For further information, please contact Karen Mora at IOM Colombia, Tel. + (57) 1 639 7777, Email:

  • The UN Migration Agency (IOM) and the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs present the study carried out in official and unofficial border crossing points between Colombia and Venezuela. Photo: IOM 2017