UNHCR works with States to strengthen refugee protection, access to asylum and local integration. We respond to immediate needs by providing basic relief items and cash assistance. We also work with partners to empower communities and include refugees and asylum-seekers in national systems.
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One in six persons UNHCR cares for lives in the Americas. The region is facing a forced displacement crisis that is unprecedented both in its complexity and scale, whose causes are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of climate change.
By mid-2022, 42% of new asylum applications in the world were made by nationals of Latin America and the Caribbean countries - mainly from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Colombia, Cuba and Honduras. Colombia was the country hosting the second-largest number of refugees and other people in need of international protection globally, with a total of 2.5 million Venezuelans.
Population outflows from Venezuela continue across Latin America and the Caribbean, with increased onward movements towards Central America, Mexico and the United States of America, through the Darien Gap. Other people UNHCR serves include over 7 million internally displaced people in Colombia, El Salvador, and Honduras.
Refugees and migrants face life-threatening and protection risks along displacement routes. Across the region, UNHCR responds to the immediate needs of affected populations, providing life-saving assistance, essential relief items and emergency shelter.
Learn more about current emergencies in the Americas and across the world on the Emergencies page.
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The exodus from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela remains one of the largest displacement crises in the world, with over 7.1 million refugees and migrants. People continue to leave Venezuela to escape violence, insecurity and threats, as well as lack of food, medicine and essential services.
The 2023-2024 Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) estimates 5 million in-destination Venezuelans will need humanitarian, protection and socioeconomic assistance in 2023.
Learn more about the Venezuela situation here.
UNHCR's work in the region
Seeking durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons remains a critical priority for UNHCR. We prioritize protection interventions, humanitarian aid, and long-term solutions, including integration and resettlement.
To build on the resilience of affected communities, our operations focus on community-centred interventions, including supporting volunteer networks. UNHCR also boosts feedback and complaint mechanisms across the region, allowing for constant communication with the affected population to ensure the response adapts to their needs, particularly in increasingly risky environments such as borders.
UNHCR’s presence in field locations will remain crucial in 2023 to coordinate efforts with local and national authorities in the monitoring of and quick response to displacement. Empowering communities to identify risks and implement protective measures will help internally displaced people and host communities in the search for long-term solutions.
In hosting countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Panama and Peru, an area-based approach will maximize the efficient use of resources where the needs of Colombian refugees coincide with those of Venezuelan refugees and migrants. UNHCR also continues its efforts to ensure access to asylum, documentation, essential services, and inclusion in national social protection systems.
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Displacement in Central America
Overall, more than a million people from Central America have been forced to leave their homes. Host countries and communities in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama have been doing their best to welcome those forced to flee.
The number of Nicaraguans seeking protection continues to increase in the sub-region, mainly into Costa Rica, where 180,000 asylum-seekers had been recorded by mid-2022.
UNHCR supports countries in addressing the causes and impact of forced displacement. We are scaling up community-based protection with an increased field presence in communities affected by violence or at risk of displacement.
Learn more about the displacement in Central America here.
Forced displacement in the context of climate change
Hurricanes, storms, floods, and droughts continue to disproportionately affect the region and lead to further displacement. The impacts exacerbate existing inequalities between men and women and affect access to resources.
For this reason, UNHCR will move forward with the implementation of its regional climate action plan in line with UNHCR's Strategic Framework for Climate Action. We promote increased resilience and protection of the most vulnerable and their hosts by reducing climate risks and adapting mechanisms for operational response to displacement in the context of climate change.
UNHCR will support States to fulfil existing commitments on statelessness and make new commitments at the Global Refugee Forum in 2023. It will offer them technical help on eradicating statelessness and on access to civil documentation and will strive to ensure legal aid and counselling for people at risk of statelessness.
Platforms and resources
Planning for the Americas: UNHCR Global Appeal
Global Appeal provides information about UNHCR’s plans for the coming year and the funding it needs to protect, assist and empower forcibly displaced and stateless people, and to help them find solutions to their situations.