Venezuela – UN requests nearly 1.7 billion euros to help Venezuelan migrants

Venezuelan migrants waiting to receive humanitarian aid at a shelter in Panama City – OIM/GEMA CORTÉS

The UN and its partners have estimated at US$1.72 billion (around 1.64 billion euros) the money needed to assist the millions of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as host communities.

Of the more than seven million Venezuelans who have left their country in recent years, the vast majority, almost six million, live in 17 countries in the region. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which have launched their regional aid plan, are focusing on them.

In this regard, they have warned that millions of people cannot afford three meals a day, lack safe and decent accommodation, face obstacles in accessing medical care and are unable to work to support themselves and their families.

The special representative of both agencies for this crisis, Eduardo Stein, has urged not to «forget» Venezuelan migrants, as «many have seen their lives paralyzed and millions struggle to feed their families or find opportunities to rebuild their lives».

«They are eager to contribute their knowledge, skills and creativity to their host communities, and have been doing so, but they need our support to overcome their most pressing challenges,» he emphasized, stressing the importance of socio-economic integration for both migrants and host communities.

Without this integration, which is sometimes peppered with xenophobia and discrimination, and without guarantees of access to basic services, many Venezuelans choose to follow dangerous routes to other countries, crossing the high mountains between Bolivia and Chile or the Darien Gap, a jungle area on the border between Colombia and Panama.

«The regularization efforts of many Latin American and Caribbean countries have been a crucial gesture of solidarity for refugees and migrants from Venezuela,» but the rising cost of living, lack of employment and low wages «have made it difficult for many refugees and migrants to rebuild their lives in their host communities.»

For the first time, the plan launched by the UN has a two-year scope, with a view to addressing immediate needs as well as medium- and long-term integration and development activities. By 2022, only a quarter of the required funds have been received, forcing a scaling down of programs.