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>> Lugging heavy suitcases filled with belongings from their old lives in Venezuela, thousands of migrants are crossing into neighboring Colombia every day to escape the throes of a severe recession. In the border town of Maicao, most Venezuelans arrive on foot, hungry, thirsty and tired, often unsure of where they will spend the night.
Reuters' correspondent Julia Symmes Cobb was there.>> We're also here on the streets talking to people who are sleeping outside tonight. It's about 9:30 and there's already hundreds of people who have set themselves up here in this commercial district. They're sleeping on pieces of cardboard with a blanket, sometimes, if they're lucky on a mattress or in a tent.
We talked to one man who has seven people sleeping in his tent. And many of them are worried about safety, there's been robberies here on Venezuelan migrants. And so people are also very afraid to be on the streets at night but they have nowhere else to go.>> So far, nearly half a million Venezuelan migrants have fled to Colombia in hopes of a better life.
But their savings are not worth much here. Money changers trade 1 million Venezuelan Bolivars for the equivalent of less than $9 in Colombian currency.>> Everyone here has told us that they couldn't make a living in Venezuela sustainable anymore. That they were paying sometimes a third of their minimum wage job, minimum wage income for a bag of rice.
And so they're hoping what they can earn in Colombia will help them offset those hardships in their home country. A lot of the people here tonight are single-men who've come looking for money to send home to their families. Everyone here works informally, sometimes they sell coffee or cigarettes or bottled water.
But they're all hoping to earn just a little bit of money to send back.>> While Colombians feel a duty to welcome the migrants, because Venezuela accepted Colombian refugees during its long civil war, others fear losing jobs to Venezuelan's being paid under the table. President Juan Manuel Santos has tightened border controls and heightened security in frontier towns.
Colombia also estimates that it cost $5 a day to give each Venezuelan migrant food and lodging. But as the exodus continues, Santos has appealed for international help to foot the bill.