More regional co-ordination needed to step up support for Venezuelan refugees, says CARE
September 2018: The international community urgently needs to step up funding and better coordinate their efforts to support hundreds of thousands of refugees from Venezuela, warns the aid organisation CARE International.
Growing numbers of people continue to leave Venezuela in search of safety while neighbouring countries become increasingly strained.
Alexandra Moncada, Country Director for CARE in Ecuador, where more than 500,000 Venezuelans have sought refuge, said:
The recent political developments in Venezuela have increased tensions in the region, fueled further by different migration policies across host countries including Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil. As a result, hundreds of Venezuelan refugees are trapped between borders.
Over 2.3 million Venezuelans out of a total population of around 32 million have left the country since 2014.
The neighbouring countries have enacted policies that restrict movement across borders.
As a result, women, men and children remain trapped between borders in dire conditions, sleeping rough in makeshift shelters with no access to health services and exposed to the risk of physical assault, exploitation and sexual harassment.
On September 3rd, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador held a Regional Meeting focusing on the humanitarian conditions of refugees arriving in Ecuador and other countries, with the participation of 13 countries and the support of international organisations.
Among the issues raised were the mismatched migration policies, the lack of provision of legal information to the displaced people and the need to address the needs of vulnerable people, especially of children, expectant mothers and the elderly.
The meeting resulted in the Ecuadorian Declaration, which states that a regional approach to the Venezuela crisis is urgently needed. In the coming week the United Nations plans to activate an emergency fund.
Venezuela is experiencing what could be the worst crisis in its recent history. Governments and international organisations need to coordinate better in order to respond to this humanitarian crisis. Leaving Venezuelans in such a volatile situation undermines their ability to work and access health care, making them more and more vulnerable.
Since August 2018, CARE International has released 200,000 USD out of its Emergency Response Fund to start our response.
Currently CARE Ecuador, in partnership with local organisations, is working in the informal shelters in Quito and providing psychosocial support and legal assistance to displaced women and their families.
Our teams are also distributing aid kits, including blankets, soap, feminine hygiene products and diapers, while also providing training on critical areas including water, sanitation and hygiene, and gender based violence prevention.
With support from our funding partners we hope to create safe spaces for affected groups, specifically for women and girls who have survived violence and sexual abuse.
In mid-September, CARE Ecuador, in partnership with UNHCR and UNICEF, is organising an advocacy meeting focusing on the response to the Venezuela humanitarian crisis with the aim to discuss possibilities and recommendations and improve coordination between the different parties.
The meeting will be attended by the Ombudsmen of Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Chile and Mexico as well as representatives of civil society organisations.
The situation is set to get worse in the coming months. The longer we wait for durable solutions for displaced Venezuelans in neighbouring countries, the more complicated the longer term implications for the region will become.
Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organisation fighting poverty and providing assistance in emergencies. Our emergency responses focus on the needs of the most vulnerable populations, particularly women and girls. CARE works in 93 countries, supporting 950 poverty-fighting development and humanitarian aid projects, reaching more than 62 million people directly (as per fundraising year 2017).
Emily Wight, Senior Press Officer (Programmes and Policy), +442070916063, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ruby Wright, Press and PR Manager: +442080916047, email@example.com
Out of hours: +44 (0)7824 563 810