Survey highlights risks faced by vulnerable Venezuelans on the move
Venezuelans continue to face specific risks during their journey because of their age, gender, health or other needs.
Venezuelans trek over an informal crossing to reach Cúcuta, Colombia, April 2019.
A survey of Venezuelans who have fled their country has found that half (50.2 per cent) of the families interviewed faced or continue to face specific risks during their journey because of their age, gender, health or other needs, or because they had to make drastic choices to cope, including begging, sending their children to work or even resorting to survival sex.
These are among the survey’s findings published today by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. The results are based on 7,846 interviews conducted in several Latin American and Caribbean countries from January to June 2019, in which people were asked about their and their families’ experiences.
Although governments in the region have issued various temporary permits to Venezuelans, 34 per cent of those interviewed said they did not have any kind of documentation, either because they had entered a country irregularly or because their permits had expired. The rest had tourist or temporary visas, with just 4 per cent having permanent residency.
Fifteen per cent of those interviewed had applied for asylum, with a further 26 per cent saying they planned to do so. Of those not intending to apply, the majority were unaware of existing procedures and entitlements, with some wrongly believing that applying for asylum would prevent them from ever returning home. It is important to note here that despite the relatively low number of applications so far, asylum systems in the region are overwhelmed.
Some 66 per cent of interviewees said they were unemployed or working informally, and 43 per cent said they had face difficulties in finding accommodation, mostly due to lack of funds and documents, as well as discrimination because of their nationality.
The interviews – undertaken in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru, and Uruguay – are part of coordinated efforts by the UN Refugee Agency, municipalities, NGO partners and Government ministries to gain a comprehensive overview of the protection risks and limited access to rights faced by Venezuelans in countries of transit or destination, as well as their needs.
Collection of detailed protection information is key to ensuring evidence-based, coherent and timely analysis and responses, and to identifying gaps in the provision of care and services.
The survey, which is conducted using a standardized protection monitoring tool, has already resulted in concrete actions, as the interviewers can refer people they identify as at risk for help and follow up. From January to June, over 1500 people were referred for counselling or services in this way. This protection monitoring is ongoing to build up a more detailed picture and analysis of the situation of the estimated 3.3 million Venezuelans currently in other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Given the risks associated with a lack of papers, UNHCR welcomes the road map agreed by regional governments in Buenos Aires on 5 July to facilitate the integration of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, including by strengthening registration and documentation processes. The road map is part of the Quito Process, a government-led initiative to harmonize state policies and practices, coordinate the humanitarian response and improve access to services and rights for Venezuelan refugees and migrants.
To complement these efforts by states and to address the protection, assistance and integration needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, a Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform was established in April 2018 and a Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) was launched last December.