UNHCR renews offer to Curacao on Venezuelan refugee response

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, welcomes the request this week from Curacao to the Netherlands for support in responding to the ongoing influx of Venezuelan refugees and migrants to the Caribbean island nation. The Curacao authorities estimate there are around 26,000 Venezuelans currently residing there. It is urgent that they have access to protection and assistance.

UNHCR reiterates its offer to provide immediate operational and legal support to both Curacao and the Netherlands in line with their laws and international obligations.

More than 2.3 million Venezuelan citizens have left their country since 2015 as a result of the ongoing political, human rights and socio-economic developments in Venezuela.  In recent months, UNHCR has observed a worrying increase in the vulnerability of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, in particular children and women. They need access to asylum or regular status, as well as shelter, health, education and other basic services. Receiving communities are under increasing strain, which can undermine peaceful coexistence and incite displays of discrimination and xenophobia.

It is imperative in this context that all countries in the region, Curacao included, move swiftly to implement a response to meet the needs of Venezuelan refugees and migrants. This includes respect for the principle of non-refoulement and access to asylum or alternative protection arrangements.

Aware of the challenges faced by Curacao, UNHCR has offered it technical and material support to develop registration and asylum procedures, to identify the needs of Venezuelans as well as those of the communities hosting them, to implement projects for the benefit of Venezuelans and local communities and help in resettling the most vulnerable Venezuelan refugees to other countries.

UNHCR continues to coordinate closely with governments throughout the Americas on this situation. We remain ready to engage quickly in practical discussions with the Government of Curacao and to provide immediate support in helping the country achieve its humanitarian goals and meet its legal obligations.