The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Venezuela, Roberto Mier, clarified on Monday that the migrants of the South American nation are not refugees nor has the agency described them as such.
"At no time did we say that the Venezuelans who leave the country are refugees, in this orientation note we are reminding the countries that should give protection and access to basic rights for immigrants, Venezuela has done it for decades," he said.
After a day spent by UNHCR with Colombian refugees living in Venezuela, Mier granted an interview to teleSUR correspondent Madeleín García, to clarify the supposed communication from the organization that declared Venezuelan migrants as "refugees".
Mier showed his concern for the xenophobia and discrimination suffered by Venezuelan migrants in other nations and added that he expects the reciprocity of the governments with Venezuela for "a trajectory of welcoming immigrants and beyond recognizing their rights."
"As UNHCR we expect legal protection for all Venezuelan immigrants, reciprocity, access to documents, family unity, freedom of movement, basic rights, guaranteed in an equal manner and without discrimination, that is what the note is about," he stressed.
In the guidance note issued, the international organization urges the receiving states to receive migrants from Venezuela and to ensure the adoption of measures that will guide protection and be based on good practices applied in the region.
Difference between migrant and refugee
The UNHCR has insisted on using the correct terminology since it considers as migrant those who choose to move to other countries because they want to "improve their lives by finding work or education, family reunification, or for other reasons."
On the other hand, the organization qualifies as a refugee anyone who travels outside their country of origin because they fear "being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, belonging to a certain social group or political opinions."
The main difference between the two terms is that migrants can return to their territory, while refugees cannot do so and must flee from their respective realities.