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Labor market access and integration: A key element for livelihoods and economic inclusion of Venezuelans, March 2021

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652.141 Victims of forced displacement between 2016 and 2020 recognized by the National Registry of Victims (RUV in Spanish)

1.7 million Of Venezuelan refugees and migrants estimated to be present in Colombia, the majority of whom are in need of international protection.

770.246 Venezuelans are in the country on a regular basis, so they can work legally. Many face discrimination, xenophobia and exploitation in their workplaces.

The dynamics of the armed conflict in Colombia have left around 9 million victims since 1985, of which around 7 million are considered to be subject to attention and reparation for the victimising acts contemplated by law. This includes cases of forced displacement, homicide, forced disappearance, crimes against sexual freedom, torture, kidnapping, illegal recruitment of minors, among others. Since 2016, following the signing of the peace agreement with the FARC, 652,141 victims of internal displacement have been identified. In addition to the above, it is estimated that more than 4 million Venezuelans have fled their country, of which approximately 1,717,352 are in Colombian territory. The arrival of such a large number of Venezuelans in Colombia, together with the commitments made by the national government in the peace agreements, has posed multiple challenges for the country.

In this regard, a key element in strengthening the livelihoods of UNHCR's persons of concern is to ensure the right to work legally and free from any kind of labour discrimination, whether as formal employees or as entrepreneurs. On the one hand, guaranteeing the Venezuelan population their right to work is essential; if they can work legally, they will be able to provide for themselves and the need for direct humanitarian assistance will be reduced. In addition, they will be able to contribute to the Colombian economy through tax payments, generate higher levels of demand and an increase in economic productivity. On the other hand, if internally displaced persons have greater job opportunities, this will not only reduce the high rates of informality, but also reduce incentives to engage in work that increases their protection risks, for example, involuntary involvement in illegal armed groups, child exploitation, survival sex and/or human trafficking, among others.

In the current context of COVID-19, the income generation and livelihoods of displaced persons, as well as refugees and migrants coming from Venezuela, have been severely affected. Against this backdrop, UNHCR is working with partners and government entities to improve the response to the pandemic and ensure the safety of all workers.