Colombia’s immigration authority estimates that during the next five months more than 200,000 Venezuelans will enter the country with the lifting of the National Health Emergency and reopening of overland borders on October 1. According to Migración Colombia, of the 106,000 Venezuelans who returned to their homeland during the coronavirus quarantine, this number could double given the precarious situation in the neighboring country. There are currently 1.7 million Venezuelans in Colombia, of which, 45% have legalized their migration status.

The Caracas-based opposition newspaper El Nacional claims 800 citizens walked to Colombia this week on treacherous paths that cross the 2,200 km long frontier. As both nations severed diplomatic relations in 2019, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) is in charge of attending to the health needs of the migrant population. While Colombia has registered 743,945 cases of coronavirus, Venezuela’s official number stands at 64,284.

Among the reasons why Venezuelans are willing to return to Colombia is the state of their country’s broken healthcare system and strict quarantine. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has stated that the crackdown on quarantine follows the hard-line against the virus by one of his country’s close allies. “Venezuela has paid attention to every single step and learned big lessons from China,” remarked Maduro when the country was reporting less than 10 cases per day. “China has inspired our decisions to face this pandemic.”