Local Church aids migrants crossing from Venezuela to Colombia
Migrant child has lunch at the Casa de Paso “Divina Providencia” in Cu?cuta. David Ramos/ACI Prensa.
CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY
March 2, 2018
As thousands continue to pour across the border from Venezuela to Colombia, the local Church is helping meet the needs of those who have been displaced.
“In total, we are providing about 8,000 hot meals a day to our Venezuelan brothers,” said Bishop Victor Manuel Ochoa of Cúcuta, Colombia.
He added that the local Church is working to “help those who also need medicine and hospitalization,” as well as providing pastoral care including Mass, the recitation of the rosary, and catechesis.
Bishop Ochoa spoke with EWTN News about the Church’s ongoing assistance to Venezuelan migrants who are fleeing their homeland, facing severe food and medicine shortages amid the economic crisis under President Nicolas Maduro.
Each day, thousands of people from Venezuela are entering Colombia via two bridges that cross the Táchira River.
This traffic, Bishop Ochoa explained, has increased “a great deal in the last month.”
President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia recently announced new measures to decrease the flow of migrants across the border. Venezuelans must now have a valid passport to enter Colombia, rather than a border cross pass obtained online.
Additionally, the president has sent thousands of soldiers and police forces to border entry points.
Bishop Ochoa said these measures have led to a “fairly significant slowdown in the ability of Venezuelans and Colombians to go back and forth.”
This has resulted in greater order, he said, but also “creates some hardships for people who go to the city for health or medical reasons.”
For the Church, however, assisting migrants has not changed.
“We have a clearing house of food and supplies called Divine Providence, and we have eight soup kitchens in the city,” the bishop said.
“This work is done thanks to the generosity of many volunteers, men and women from our parishes. And from the apostolic and ecclesial movements that are connected with this initiative and this pastoral work that we are carrying out.”