VILLA DEL ROSARIO, Colombia—Thousands of people stand idly about, families sitting near heaps of luggage. Groups cram into every bit of available shade, eager to ignore the shouts of salesmen hawking potatoes or medication. Nearby, bus companies promote “no passport” travel inland.
This is what a migration crisis looks like. For more than two years, a steady stream of people—many toting little more than ragged backpacks and bags—have crossed into this Colombian town and others like it, escaping their crumbling homeland, Venezuela, which has been weathering an economic collapse and, more recently, a political crisis.
Thus far, Colombia has opened its doors as millions of people have flocked to its border. Politicians here know there is no way to keep these migrants out, so instead of railing against its neighbor or raising the drawbridge, they have focused on integrating those who arrive, efforts that have been commended by aid agencies. But with almost 1.5 million Venezuelans here, equivalent to about 3 percent of Colombia’s population, and more arriving every day, the country may soon be entirely overwhelmed.
The difficulty is shared the world over by countries bordering troubled states, whether it be Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey having to cope with the fallout of the conflict in Syria, or Bangladesh erecting refugee camps for Rohingya Muslims leaving Myanmar. While news coverage often focuses on the impact of migration on the United States and Europe, it is these neighboring countries that bear the brunt of the exodus and that must deal with the humanitarian crises they cause. And like those countries, without ample foreign aid, Colombia is near the point where it will not be able to cope.