Over the last years, approximately 3.6 million people have fled Venezuela, with the number expected to reach 5 million by the end of 2020. Hunger; lack of access health services, including such basics as vaccinations, medicines for chronic illnesses, testing and treatment of preventable diseases; rising violence and insecurity; and lack of employment have forced millions of Venezuelans to flee their home. For those that remain, the situation was recently compounded by the loss of power that affected the entire country, making already difficult conditions, untenable.
This migration, the largest to affect the Western Hemisphere in modern history, is creating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. The extraordinary displacement of people has put tremendous pressure on neighboring countries throughout the region, many of which were unprepared to effectively and quickly respond.
For instance, the health implications of this humanitarian crisis to the region are serious. Poor or nonexistent health systems in Venezuela have contributed to reduced health conditions of its migrant populations, which in turn have negatively impacted receiving countries. For instance, 68% of measles cases in the Americas in 2018 were attributable to Venezuela, where measles vaccines are unavailable. This has resulted in measles outbreaks being spread across the region among receiving countries. Brazil had the second highest measles incidence of the Americas, predominantly in border communities, and the highest incidence among receiving countries.
Additionally, the incidence of gender based violence among migrants from Venezuela is on the rise. This is not a surprising phenomenon in the context of similar humanitarian and refugee crises. Migrant women and girls are especially vulnerable to trafficking, sexual exploitation and different forms of gender-based violence. The numbers coming out of UNHCR are staggering, and now, more than ever, women and girls from Venezuela need our support.
The scale of this crisis is not garnering the global attention it deserves. Currently, Colombia hosts the highest number of refugees and migrants, with over 1.1 million new Venezuelan migrants having entered the country to date. It is followed by Peru, with 506,000, Chile 288,000, Ecuador 221,000, Argentina 130,000, and Brazil 96,000. While these numbers are staggering, they do not show the whole picture as many countries only count migrants if they are registered, which can be an incredibly complicated task.
Countries across the region have shown great solidarity to refugees and migrants from Venezuela, but they are straining under the pressure due to the sheer scope of the crisis. These figures underscore the dire need for support from the international community. How we treat Venezuelans in exile will shape the future trajectory of the host countries, as well as the future of this migrant population, for years to come.
For over 30 years, The Resource Foundation has quickly mobilized resources and leveraged its local network in the wake of humanitarian crises. In addition to assessing local needs, we respond to determine where donors’ support can be best invested. We help to facilitate immediate relief as well as longer term assistance programs. The Resource Foundation works to help people rebuild their lives.
Through programs to fight child poverty and abandonment, prevent malnutrition and violence, and support youth training and employability, The Resource Foundation is working to address the needs created by this crisis. Additionally, local partners are implementing programs in Brazil, Colombia, Peru and other receiving countries, with a focus on strengthening health care systems and improving health, as well as providing needed nutritional and safety support for migrant women, children and youth, often forced to reside in shelters due to the crisis. While there is no single answer in these times, The Resource Foundation is clear that effective responses must apply a multi-sector approach that is coordinated and localized.
While the United Nations and receiving countries are developing and implementing programs to effectively handle this unprecedented humanitarian crisis, support is badly needed from the private sector. A joint United Nations report issued in December 2018 estimated that approximately $738M is needed to respond to the needs of those affected. The Resource Foundation has created a Venezuela Relief Fund to offer support to those who need it most. Initiatives underway include:
Helping people with food and water, health, hygiene and child protection.
Setting up child-friendly spaces providing kids a place to play, learn and receive psychosocial care.
Providing shelter assistance programs.
Partnering with organizations in host countries, offering support.
This is a crisis, and The Resource Foundation is on the ground, providing support through our vast network. It is estimated that 5,000 people are leaving Venezuela every day. The Venezuelan people, and the neighboring countries need our help now more than ever.