Hundreds of Venezuelan migrants were forced to flee back to Venezuela after Brazilian protesters - denouncing the influx of Venezuelan migrants into the territory and its perceived detrimental impacts on quality of life - razed their camp in Pacaraima (Roraima state) on Saturday, August 18. The violence came amid accusations that a local merchant was robbed and seriously wounded by Venezuelan migrants in recent days. At least three Brazilian protesters were wounded in clashes with the Venezuelan migrants; the number of Venezuelan migrants wounded in the clashes was not immediately announced. Brazilian authorities have reportedly sent additional troops to the Brazil-Venezuela border following the violence. Despite the return of calm to the border area, additional anti-migrant protests and violent clashes between Brazilian protesters and Venezuelan migrants are possible in Roraima state in the coming days.
Roraima state is a major crossing point for Venezuelans fleeing their country. According to state officials, around 500 Venezuelans cross into Roraima each day, with many staying in the state because they cannot afford to continue traveling into the country. Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima, reportedly hosts 25,000 Venezuelans. Roraima, and notably Boa Vista, has also reportedly experienced a spike in crime rates attributed to the migrant crisis.
Over a million Venezuelan refugees have fled the country, with a large percentage taking refuge in Colombia and Brazil. The migrant crisis is expected to worsen throughout 2018 as Venezuela's economy continues to falter. The IMF has estimated that by the end of 2018 the Venezuelan economy will shrink by 15 percent and inflation in the country could reach 1 million percent. Venezuelans face shortages of gasoline, food, medicine, and other basic necessities, as well as extreme rates of violent crime, social unrest, and an ongoing political crisis.
Individuals in Roraima state, particularly in Pacaraima, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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