CCUTA/HAVANA : Thousands crossed into Colombia on Saturday to buy food and medicine after Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro reopened a border that had been shut for the past four months.

Long lines of Venezuelans stood at two international bridges near the city of Ccuta waiting to have their documents checked by Colombian officials, with some carrying children on their shoulders. Venezuelans border guards dressed in green uniforms helped to control the crowed.

The South American nation's socialist government ordered the borders with Aruba, Bonnaire, Curacao, Brazil and Colombia closed in February  as the opposition tried to deliver food and medical; supplies into the country.

Most of the aid was provided largely by the United States, a key ally of the opposition leader Juan Guaid who declared himself to be Venezuela's  rightful president in January.

But Maduro dismissed the aid as an infringement on Venezuela's  sovereignty and prohibited it from entering.

In May, the government reopened borders with Aruba and Brazil, but the Simon Bolivar International Bridge the Francisco de Paula Santander International Bridge with Colombia have remained closed up until now.

With the reopeneing, a flood of people seized on the opportunity to enter into neighbouring Colombia and secure items that are all but unattainable in Venezuela.

The once-wealthy oil nation is now facing severe shortages of basic goods and hyperinflation that is expected to surpass 10 million percent  this year, according to a recent IMF estimate.

The chaos has been further aggravated by US sanctions on Venezuelan oil exports and and has forced an estimated 5,000 people to leave the country each day, according to the United Nations refugee agency.  [Agencies]


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