At a busy intersection in the capital city of Colombia, Hector Salas, a migrant from neighbouring Venezuela, sells lollipops for $6 a day in order to rent a room for his young family.

The father of a 20-month-old daughter, Salas is one of the nearly 3 million migrants who have fled Venezuela, driven out by the soaring costs of food and medicine, as well as political turmoil that the United Nations warned today could have “catastrophic consequences.”

“This is the only crisis I’ve been to where I’ve seen so many crying just out of frustration…the desperation,” Salas told CTV’s Omar Sachedina in Colombia, where up to 5,000 migrants from Venezuela arrive daily.

Though Venezuela has for years battled a humanitarian crisis fuelled by plunging oil prices and government mismanagement, the situation escalated this week as President Nicolas Maduro faced a challenge from Juan Guaido, the country’s self-declared interim president, prompting violent protests.

According to the United Nations human rights office, pro-government groups seeking to quash dissent shot and killed at least 20 people in the protests.

Rupert Colville, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the commissioner is concerned “the situation may rapidly spiral out of control.”

Meanwhile, Guaido appeared at a rally on Friday in his first public appearance since taking the unofficial oath and declaring himself president, defiantly urging supporters to organize another mass protest next week.

Maduro, who said he was willing to meet with Guaido, vowed to fight through what he described as an American-backed political coup threatening his presidency.

He gave American diplomats a deadline of tomorrow to leave the Venezuelan capital. Some of them were seen leaving today with their families, despite calls from Guaido for them to defy the order and stay.