UNHCR works in the Americas and beyond to support the inclusion of Venezuelans in the societies that have generously welcomed them and to find solutions to create stability and foster the growth and development of their communities.
We left everything in Venezuela. We don’t have a place to live or sleep and have nothing to eat.
Despite some spontaneous returns of Venezuelan nationals to their country of origin, the outflow of Venezuelan refugees and migrants to neighbouring countries and beyond persists. The number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela has surpassed 7 million globally, according to data from governments. A significant number of them are in need of international protection and humanitarian assistance.
While host communities and countries in the region are committed to helping Venezuelans and have been generously welcoming them, they are increasingly overstretched. Several countries are implementing large-scale regularization processes to ensure refugees and migrants are documented and have access to rights and services. However, these efforts and gestures of solidarity require financial support to succeed and ensure no one is left behind.
Most refugees and migrants from Venezuela arriving in neighbouring countries are families with children, pregnant women, elderly people, and people with disabilities.
Many are facing poverty and struggling to survive, according to the latest needs assessment carried out by UNHCR and partners from the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V).
The spiralling cost of living, fallout from the COVID-19 emergency, and high unemployment rates have increased the vulnerability of Venezuelan refugees and migrants and have made it difficult for many to rebuild their lives and integrate into host societies across the region. Half of all refugees and migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean cannot afford three meals a day and lack access to safe and dignified housing. To access food or avoid homelessness, many Venezuelans resort to survival sex, begging or indebtedness.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic still represent difficulties for socio-economic integration, pushing Venezuelans deeper into poverty. Many families, forced to reduce their food intake, have taken on debts to survive. They are at risk of eviction, exploitation, and protection risks. Economic hardships and political instability in some countries and increasing competition for jobs and limited access to public services have led to cases of discrimination and xenophobia.
Extremely low salaries further hinder the ability of Venezuelan refugees and migrants to support themselves and their families. Many refugee and migrant children still face multiple obstacles to accessing education services in their host countries, notably due to the lack of enrolment slots or space in schools. Those who lack documentation, livelihoods, and prospects of local integration are resorting to onward movements in search of a safe and sustainable future. Many put their lives at risk by taking extremely dangerous irregular routes.
We walked for 11 days and had to sleep outside. We left because they threatened to kill us. My brother was killed… They almost killed me.
What is UNHCR doing to help?
In close collaboration with host governments, partner organizations, civil society, faith-based organizations, and UN Agencies (particularly IOM), UNHCR is undertaking several activities to protect Venezuelan refugees and migrants while responding to their humanitarian needs and promoting socio-economic inclusion.
To ensure safe and dignified reception conditions, UNHCR has stepped up its presence in border areas across the region, providing life-saving assistance (including drinking water and hygiene kits for women and children) and responding to the basic needs of refugees and migrants while ensuring access to territory and asylum, providing legal aid and counselling and upholding refugee law and practice.
To promote the integration of refugees and migrants in their host communities, UNHCR works closely with local authorities, civil society and the private sector and supports providing vocational training to Venezuelans. UNHCR is also supporting the relocation of Venezuelan refugees and migrants to places with more employment opportunities and services.
UNHCR works with governments across the region to strengthen registration and national asylum systems and advocates for the socio-economic inclusion and local integration of refugees and migrants.
Together with civil society and governmental partners, UNHCR supports temporary shelters and accommodation networks, community infrastructure interventions, child-friendly spaces, and spaces for breastfeeding mothers at border crossing points.
A comprehensive cash transfer programme helps refugees and migrants to meet their most urgent needs, such as food, rent and utilities. By receiving this support, Venezuelans contribute to the economies of hosting communities by purchasing services and goods locally.
Anti-xenophobia campaigns have been implemented by UNHCR and partners in different countries to curb discrimination and promote peaceful coexistence between Venezuelans and host communities.
UNHCR has established networks of volunteers to improve our links with the communities and ensure two-way communication and accountability while working with different population groups, including women, children, elderly people, young people, and persons with disabilities, as well as indigenous and LGBTIQ+ groups. In addition, UNHCR is coordinating with partners a regional Support Spaces initiative to ensure that refugees and migrants receive updated and reliable information and a minimum package of services in key locations across the region.
It took us over seven days to reach Peru. We had nothing to eat at the end. We tried to spare all for our son, but he also went over 24 hours without a bite. He is only three.
Are you a refugee or asylum-seeker in Venezuela? Find information about your rights and available services on our HELP site.
Are you looking for data on displacement in Venezuela? Visit the UNHCR data portal for the latest data and statistics on refugees and other displaced persons.
For information on UNHCR's operational response, budgets and funding, please visit the Venezuela situation page on Global Focus.
Reports and links
Are you looking for further data on the Venezuela situation?
The Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants (R4V) is made up of over 200 organizations that coordinate their efforts under Venezuela's Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) in 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.