Nov. 8 (UPI) -- The United Nations refugee agency said Thursday the number of Venezuelans that have left the nation in recent years has increased to 3 million.
Most of those Venezuelans have flooded into other Latin American nations, the agency said. The country is reeling from a years-long economic and political crisis under President Nicolas Maduro.
"Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have kept in great part a laudable open-door policy for Venezuelan migrants and refugees. However, their reception capacity is already under pressure," said Eduardo Stein, an official at the UNHCR for Venezuelan refugees.
There are 2.4 million refugees and migrants still in Latin America while other regions of the world hold the rest, the agency said.
More than a million Venezuelan refugees are now living in Colombia, while Peru houses half a million and Ecuador over 220,000, the agency said.
"A more solid response and immediate action from the international community" is needed Stein added, as he cited pressures already overwhelming the top receiving countries.
Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra said in late October that only those Venezuelans who entered Peru before October 31 will be allowed to remain.
Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno said in September before the U.N. General Assembly that at least 6,000 Venezuelans reached his country daily, and that children arrived with "measles, diphtheria and polio" in comments that led to a diplomatic spat between the countries.
Colombian-Venezuelan relations are heavily strained with Colombian reports of at least three Venezuelan military incursions in the past three months. Venezuelan officials have claimed Colombian paramilitary groups have ambushed and killed Venezuelan soldiers in recent days.
Argentina houses 130,000, Chile over 100,000 and Brazil about 85.000 refugees from Venezuela, the U.N. agency said.
Maduro's government, meanwhile, has asked Venezuelans to return and offered to pay the transportation costs.
Telesur, a media company sponsored by the Venezuelan government, said on Nov. 3 that so far 9,000 Venezuelans have returned to their country after Maduro started the repatriation plan.