Two UN agencies launched on Thursday, a $1.72 billion regional plan to support Venezuelan refugees and migrants throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).
Co-led by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V), aims to respond to the needs of millions who cannot afford three meals a day; lack safe and decent housing; face hurdles in accessing medical care; or are unable to work to support themselves and their families.
“Refugees and migrants from Venezuela cannot be forgotten”, said Eduardo Stein, Joint Special Representative of UNHCR and IOM for Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants.
‘Their most pressing challenges’
In addition to social welfare programmes, the funding being sought will complement and support host governments’ efforts, while also promoting socio-economic integration through access to employment, education, and efforts to provide full protection as refugees.
By providing effective integration and the necessary financial stability, Venezuelans will be able to contribute to the development of the countries that have generously welcomed them.
“They are eager to contribute to their host communities with their knowledge, skills and creativity, and they have been doing so, but they need our support to overcome their most pressing challenges”, Mr. Stein continued.
Venezuelans on the move
In search of safety and stability, more than seven million refugees and migrants from Venezuela have left their country – nearly six million of whom are living in 17 countries throughout LAC.
Instability, difficulties in accessing basic services, xenophobia, discrimination, and lack of documentation, has forced tens of thousands to continue embarking on dangerous journeys – including through the perilous Darien Gap or by crossing the Andes between Bolivia and Chile
Acknowledging that regularization efforts by many countries across LAC have been “a crucial gesture of solidarity” for Venezuelans on the move, the UN official pointed out that high unemployment, low wages, and the spiraling cost of living triggered by COVID-19 “have made it difficult for many refugees and migrants to rebuild their lives in their host communities”.
“Many have seen their lives come to a standstill and millions are struggling to feed their families or find opportunities to rebuild their lives”, he explained.
Pushed to the brink
Meanwhile, a worsening global economy and recession has turned the world’s attention elsewhere.
So far this year, only a quarter of the required funds have been received – forcing life-saving programmes across the region to be scaled back and pushing many Venezuelans to the brink.
In a bid to strengthen the bridge between immediate attention to humanitarian and protection needs and medium to long-term integration, the plan has, for the first time, set a two-year-long scope.
Coordinating the response
The 17 countries participating in the plan are Argentina, Aruba, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay.
This year, R4V provides a framework for a coordinated operational response for 228 partner organizations, including UN agencies, international and national non-governmental organizations, refugee and migrant-led diaspora organizations, and others.
SOURCE: UN News/SLT. Headline photo via IOM (Hundreds of Venezuelan migrants stranded in Panama City)