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Venezuelan children in Colombia already have access to the right to education and health (image for illustration). Juan Pablo BAYONA / AFP

Twenty-four thousand Venezuelan children will be able to obtain Colombian nationality. President Ivan Duque announced Tuesday (August 5th) that all children born to Venezuelan parents on Colombian soil after August 19th, 2015 will be naturalized.

With our correspondent in Bogota , Marie-Eve Detoeuf

" Colombia sets the example , the children of migrants will not be stateless, " President Ivan Duque told reporters in Bogota on Tuesday of the naturalization of Venezuelan children born on Colombian soil for four years .

Exceptional measure

This is an exceptional measure since the Colombian Constitution recognizes only the right of blood. Venezuela also recognizes this right and babies born to Venezuelan parents are Venezuelan ... in theory.

Since the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the two countries last January, there is no Venezuelan consulate in Colombia. Children born on this side of the border can no longer obtain a birth certificate, passport or identity card. They are therefore technically stateless.

These Venezuelan children already enjoy the right to education and health, recognized by the Colombian state to all minors regardless of their nationality. But in practice, the situation of these migrant children remains very precarious. Naturalization will not solve everything, but it is a first step.

" Guarantee the rights " of children

According to the UN more than 3.7 million Venezuelans have fled their country since 2015. 1.4 million are settled in Colombia, nearly half of them in an irregular situation.

" For two and a half years, more than 1.4 million Venezuelan migrants have arrived here ," said Felipe Muñoz, the government official on the Colombian-Venezuelan border. Colombia has administered more than 1.2 million vaccines mainly to children. Our education system has integrated 180,000 children and young people. We have allowed women to give birth in a context of severe budget restrictions and despite a complex situation, but the Colombian government made this decision because refusing to grant nationality to these children made them run the risk of becoming stateless ... "

" Protect "

" Colombia is committed, by relaxing its regulations to allow these children to acquire Colombian nationality, said the official. If in the future the situation changed in Venezuela and they could benefit from their right to nationality in their country, very well, they would have both nationalities or they could give up Colombia ... But in the meantime, the Colombian government made this decision to protect these children and guarantee their rights. "