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9 March 2023 - News

Civil Society Urges International Community to Step Up Support for Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in the Region

Over 20 organizations held a high-level dialogue with donors, governments, and UN agencies to seek joint solutions

Panama City, March 9, 2023 – The Coalition for the Defense of the Rights of Refugees, Migrants and Displaced Populations in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC RMD Coalition), along with civil society organizations within and outside Venezuela, the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the Government of Canada, held a high-level dialogue in the framework of the International Conference in Solidarity with Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela in order to address the most urgent challenges to maintain international attention and humanitarian response in the region.

The situation in Venezuela has impacted the migration flows in the whole region, and it continues to be one of the world's largest displacement crises. To date, around 7.2 million Venezuelans have left their country, with more than 6 million living in 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, mainly in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and Brazil.

Gloria Garcia, OXFAM’s LAC Regional Director, on behalf of the LAC RMD Coalition, notes:

 "In Latin America, in addition to the great Venezuelan migratory crisis, it should be noted that the region is currently facing multiple and varied crises such as armed conflict and generalized violence, natural disasters and climate change, different socio-political crises and mixed migratory flows, in addition to other factors such as high inflation, which has an impact on its economic growth, increased poverty in the region and also the weakness of social protection systems that make it more complex to cover the basic needs of the affected and/or most vulnerable population."

During the dialogue, it was emphasized that the international community needs to redouble its efforts to support the response of civil society organizations and promote a coherent strategic vision for the context in Venezuela and transit and host countries to strengthen coordination at the regional, national, and local levels.

Additionally, it was highlighted that hundreds of thousands of people traveling under dangerous conditions face serious risks of human rights violations, even death, and require a differentiated approach to respond better to their specific needs based on their origin, sexual orientation, age, and gender, among others.

Carmen*, a 16-year-old Venezuelan migrant, says:

"My greatest concern is not being able to reach the United States and not having a future. In Venezuela, I was studying, but due to economic reasons, we had to migrate to another country to seek a better future, because the money was not enough to buy food or sustain ourselves. The journey has been terrible, difficult; if you didn't have money to pay, they would kill you right there. We have become sick, have been in danger, and all that, so it has been very difficult for us, especially as women. And I felt like I couldn't take it anymore, I felt like giving up, I didn't want to continue, I wanted to go back. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, especially not to a teenager who I know is in danger."

"I think we teenage girls are in crisis because there is a lot of danger right now, but I think we should take care of ourselves, we have to think that if we want something, we have to do it well. I wanted a good job for my future, and I wanted to be a recognized criminalist. I feel good about leaving Venezuela because I know that something better awaits me and my sister in the future," adds.

The LAC RDM Coalition calls states, the international community, multilateral organizations, and the United Nations to promote strategic actions that increase the visibility of the several crises affecting the region and Venezuela, articulate humanitarian responses inside and outside the country, address humanitarian needs and Nexus-type actions that strengthen the integration of refugee and migrant populations and the resilience of communities.

The Coalition also recommends improving the participation of civil society organizations and increasing direct financing, particularly to national and local organizations, and establishing a collective and participatory process with UN agencies with a work plan to identify solutions to the challenges within the existing coordination structures and propose new articulations that respond timely to new border dynamics and growing crises caused by natural disasters.

Finally, it calls for increased financing and its transparency, ensuring more funds to respond to needs within and outside Venezuela, through multi-country and multi-year projects, including the establishment of an adequate accountability mechanism.

* Name changed for safeguarding reasons.

Live event recording on YouTube