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Humanitarian Action for Children 2021 - Children on the move, including from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and people affected by COVID-19

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  • In 2021, an estimated 12.2 million people, including 4.3 million children,1 will need humanitarian assistance related to: migration flows from and returns to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; needs related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic; violence; and internal displacement.

  • In response, UNICEF will support the safe return to school and provide water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection and cash-based interventions, among others.

  • UNICEF requests US$94.7 million to address the humanitarian needs – including those related to COVID-19 – of the following groups: (1) the most vulnerable Venezuelan migrant and refugee children and their families and host communities in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago; (2) the most vulnerable non-migrant children and families affected by COVID-19 in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru;2 and (3) children affected by violence and displacement in Colombia and Ecuador.


In 2021, an estimated 12.2 million people, including 4.3 million children, will need humanitarian assistance due to migration outflows from and returns to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,8 as well as the COVID-19 pandemic7 and violence and internal displacement in Colombia and northern Ecuador.

There are 5.1 million Venezuelans on the move, including 4.2 million who are moving within the region.9 Approximately 3.3 million Venezuelans, including indigenous populations, are settled in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago.10 These countries host the most vulnerable Venezuelans, mainly youth, with limited livelihood opportunities and poor access to health, nutrition, education, protection and WASH services. With restrictive migration policies in place11 and no access to safety nets,
COVID-19 lockdowns are disproportionately affecting Venezuelans.

Many migrants have returned to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela due to confinement and because they were unable to cover their basic needs. There are 95,000 returnees and more are expected in the coming months.12

Migrants often choose irregular routes, hampering efforts to monitor children’s conditions.
Children on the move, who are often unaccompanied, are at risk of family separation, trafficking, abuse, exploitation, child recruitment, gender-based violence and exposure to COVID-19. They often lack access to education and other basic services.

Vulnerable groups in the region are also confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as violence and internal displacement in Colombia and Ecuador. Among those affected, local indigenous people and people in the poorer wealth quintiles, particularly women and girls, are most vulnerable. COVID-19 has decreased government capacities to deliver services, which were already stretched by pre-existing crises, such as migration, displacement and violence.
The number of people living in poverty has increased by nearly 44.5 million in 2020, and the unemployment rate has reached nearly 13.5 per cent.13

In Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, approximately 7.5 million vulnerable people14 will need assistance due to COVID-19, violence and internal displacement.15 These people have limited access to health care, including maternal health and vaccinations, and nutrition, child protection, education, early childhood development, WASH and social protection services.

Approximately 7 million people are severely food insecure,16 and at least 21 million learners17 are affected by school closures.18 Girls and women are increasingly vulnerable to genderbased violence; and confinement measures have given rise to domestic violence and limited opportunities for girls and women to leave abusive settings.19