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News Link • Venezuela

Sick Venezuelans flee to Colombia in mounting refugee crisis

• http://abcnews.go.com

In a cramped hospital near Colombia's border with Venezuela, migrants fill stretchers bearing the wounds of the deteriorating nation they left behind.

An 18-year-old woman rubbed her swollen belly after fleeing with her infant daughter when the wounds from her C-section began to ooze pus. A young man whose femur had torn through his skin in a motorcycle crash needed antibiotics for an infection. An elderly retiree with a swollen foot arrived after taking a 20-hour bus ride from Caracas because doctors there told his family the only treatment they could offer was amputation — without anesthesia or antibiotics.

"If you want to sign, sign. But we are not responsible for the life of your father," Teresa Tobar, 36, quoted the doctors in Venezuela as telling her when they handed over the papers to authorize her father's surgery.

As Venezuela's economic crisis worsens, rising numbers are fleeing in a burgeoning refugee crisis that is drawing alarm across Latin America. Independent groups estimate that as many as 3 million to 4 million Venezuelans have abandoned their homeland in recent years, with several hundred thousand departing in 2017 alone.

Many of those migrants are arriving by foot in Colombia and landing in the Andean nation's emergency rooms with urgent medical conditions that Venezuelan hospitals can no longer treat.

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