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Delivering Life-Saving Humanitarian Relief to Venezuelans in Need
February 7, 2020

  • Since 2017, the United States has provided over $656 million in aid to the Venezuela crisis, of which nearly $473 million is humanitarian assistance for the close to 4.8 million Venezuelans who have been forced to flee their country and those facing acute humanitarian needs inside Venezuela.  The Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) provided more than $208 million of that total to provide Venezuelans with food and shelter, register for services, and integrate them into host countries.
  • Our funding supports the work of international and non-governmental organizations to complement host government efforts to protect and assist Venezuelans inside Venezuela and in 16 host countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and several Caribbean island nations.
  • We provide this assistance to promote regional stability and help Venezuelans meet their needs close to home so when changes come to Venezuela, Venezuelans can return safely and voluntarily.

What can over $208 million in humanitarian assistance accomplish?  Here are just a few examples of how our support helps hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan refugees and migrants:

A family with parents and two young children
A Venezuelan family transitions out of a PRM-supported shelter into a permanent home in Quito, Ecuador. Photo credit: Jesuit Relief Services

1) Urgent shelter, food, and suppli

In 2019, we worked with our partners to provide shelter, food, and other life-saving items to Venezuelan refugees and migrants. With our support, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) provided temporary shelter to more than 53,000 Venezuelans in the region between April 2018 and September 2019.  By August 2019, PRM partner, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), had provided operational, logistical, and technical support to seven migrant shelters in Colombia benefitting 9,584 Venezuelans. Our contributions to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided cash assistance, infant kits and hygiene kits, drinking water, and transportation. At Peru’s northern border with Ecuador, UNHCR and IOM assisted up to 100 Venezuelans daily with their urgent humanitarian needs.

2) Legal status and asylum  

Registering Venezuelan refugees and migrants is an essential first step to ensure access to basic services in their host communities. Our support to international partners helped facilitate this process. From September 2018 to August 2019, PRM partner, PADF, provided guidance on basic legal rights to 10,825 Venezuelans in Colombia. In December 2019, Brazil announced it would recognize Venezuelan asylum seekers as refugees, accelerating asylum processing for most of the approximately 119,000 Venezuelan asylum seekers in Brazil.  By the end of the year, Brazil granted refugee status to more than 21,000 Venezuelans with the support of PRM-funded UNHCR. IOM provides technical assistance to the Government of Ecuador that includes improvements in hardware and software in 15 Migratory Support Centers across the country using biometric data. In September 2019 alone, these centers assisted 63,062 Venezuelans in Ecuador.

People descending steps from an airplane
Venezuelans en route to Igarassu, Brazil via Recife International Airport. Photo credit: UNHCR

3) Integration

Our support helped partner organizations launch national and regional social inclusion outreach campaigns on radio, television, and social media to prevent and respond to discrimination against Venezuelans and other vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers. With U.S. funding, IOM and UNHCR promoted social integration between Venezuelans and Peruvians through the #TuCausaEsMiCausa campaign (“Your Cause is My Cause,” a play on words with the Peruvian national dish “causa” as well as Peruvian slang for “friend”). Through the UN Regional Platform for the Venezuela Response led by UNHCR and IOM, the campaigns and activities reached more than 75 million people.  PRM partners in Brazil helped relocate tens of thousands of refugees and migrants from the northern border with Venezuela to cities across the country with greater access to public services and opportunities for integration.

4) Employment

A group of people
Venezuelan participants in a Riohacha, Colombia recycling co-op describe renewed self-esteem through wage-earning opportunities. Photo credit: PRM

With a focus on longer-term solutions for vulnerable Venezuelans, PRM funded technical training, job placement, and self-employment programs. In September 2019, IOM supported 2,657 Venezuelans with income generation activities in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, and Mexico. In Chile, 1,494 Venezuelans participated in a labor fair for the socio-economic integration of refugees and migrants. Forty-seven local and international companies offered jobs ranging from engineers and accountants to security guards, business assistants, and technicians.

In La Guajira, Colombia, PRM partner PADF began operating a co-op in which Venezuelan refugees gather plastics for recycling in a company operated by a Colombian returnee through its “Integrando Horizontes” (“Integrating Horizons”) project. Through the project, approximately 70 tons of recyclable trash was collected and removed from the streets of Riohacha, La Guajira per month, and participants were able to earn as much as 35,000 to 40,000 Colombian pesos per day (approximately $10-12/day) to meet their basic needs, well over the minimum monthly wage in Venezuela.