The Wayuu Refugee Crisis

Assignment for The New York Times documenting the refugee crisis of the Wayuu, an indigenous tribe that is being displaced and moving to Colombia due to the collapse of Venezuela’s economy.


At least 4 million Venezuelans have fled their country in recent years, forced out by hunger, hyperinflation and deadly political crackdowns. The Wayuu, an indigenous group of shepherds, have not been spared and the Colombian Guajira is barely capable of sustaining the relentless flow of refugees.

In the words of Nicholas Casey,

“Celia Epinayu buried her own son, Eduardo, in February. She is not a migrant but a Colombian Wayuu living on the lands where her parents had raised her. But a Paz and others from Venezuela kept arriving, the food for the Epinayu’s clan grew scarce and she could not feed her five children, including 10-month-old Eduardo.

‘Your boy is dead, you have to let go,’ said Betty Ipuana, the local schoolteacher, who was visiting Epinayu at her adobe house. ‘The ones you must look over now are the ones that are alive.’”