Living conditions and access to medical care have deteriorated in Venezuela due to acute political, economic, and social crises, forcing more than 3.4 million people to leave the country in recent years. Many cross the border into Colombia, but insecurity and criminal violence put them at risk there, too. In response, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams provide primary and mental health care, family planning services, and information on social services to Venezuelan migrants in Colombia’s La Guajira, Norte de Santander, and Arauca departments.
Marilyn Díaz and her family arrived in Tibú, in Colombia’s Norte de Santander department, a year and a half ago from the Venezuelan state of Zulia. Here, Díaz shares her story in her own words.
"I went to MSF because I was told that there was an ‘assistance for Venezuelans’ day. I approached them because I had physical problems and because my son was virtually not eating. I arrived in the morning and had to wait until the afternoon, but they took care of me and my son too. He was underweight; they gave him ready-to-use food and got his condition under control. At first we went every week and then every two weeks. Fortunately, he is much better now.
When we first came to MSF, I was pregnant. I was tested and they gave me medicines and vitamins and told me to come in for monitoring. I gave birth three days ago and I’ve come back today to get contraceptives. I gave birth here at the hospital and everything went well.
Other Venezuelans had scared me, telling me I wouldn’t receive care [in Tibú]. They said I should go to Cúcuta because here they’d let me die, as they don’t provide care for Venezuelans. I have a ‘special residency permit’ but I am still waiting to get health insurance. When my labor pains started, I came to the emergency room and fortunately they treated me quickly and everything went well.