Traditionally, countries of the sub-region (comprising Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay) have maintained open border policies and an overall favourable environment for integration towards refugees and migrants from Venezuela. However, temporary border closures and other lockdown measures due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with a fragile economic environment, rising levels of poverty and strained social safety nets have exacerbated the vulnerabilities of refugees and migrants from Venezuela in the sub-region. Access to territory through formal channels has become increasingly challenging while processes to access international protection and regularization pathways are overwhelmed, resulting in large backlogs and delays in providing the documentation that is essential for accessing public services.
Owed to the impacts of COVID-19 in the sub-region, refugees and migrants from Venezuela have lost income and struggle to access national relief and healthcare programs. Refugees and migrants from Venezuela also face serious protection risks, reflected through increased reports of gender-based violence (GBV) incidents, trafficking, exploitation and abuse, while services available to assist the needs of victims remain insufficient.
Refugees and migrants from Venezuela continue to be in critical need of basic services, particularly food and shelter. For 2021, it is projected that they will continue facing challenges in accessing livelihoods and decent work in the formal labour market. Some 84 per cent of the total refugee and migrant population from Venezuela projected in the Southern Cone sub-region is estimated to be in need of assistance in 2021, representing a 21 per cent increase compared to 2020.