Following the launch of the revised RMRP 2020 in the context of COVID-19the International Donors Conference is scheduled for 26 May 2020 in solidarity with Venezuelan refugees and migrants. The European Union and the Government of Spain, with the support of UNHCR and IOM, will convene the Conference in virtual format. R4V partners have been actively preparing for the conference. This has included first and foremost the revision of the regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP), but also the development of a range of materials for dissemination to raise the profile of the event. Importantly, a dedicated planning session of civil society organizations (CSO) was convened by the Coalición LAC RMD this week within the framework of the R4V Platform to inform a strong CSO R4V partner contribution to the conference.
R4V Partners across the region are looking forward to following the proceedings of the Conference virtually, in anticipation of contributions that international donors will announce to support governments of the host countries as well as R4V partners, to provide the much-needed assistance, protection and integration support to the most vulnerable refugees and migrants in the region and their host communities, who are now more than ever facing dire needs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. To inform a broad audience on the Conference, a dedicated Information Note has been disseminated, while additional information can be found on the corresponding websites of the Spanish Government and of the European Union.
Cases of sexual exploitation, including incidents in exchange for accommodation are being reported across the region. According to reports of R4V partners, increasingly women and girls and their families who cannot pay for their rents risk eviction if they do not respond to demands for sexual favors. Return movements to Venezuela and evictions continue to be linked to significant protection risks for refugees and migrants in the region. The impacts of COVID-19 have also led to complex challenges regarding the identification of and response to human trafficking cases due to reduced capacity in shelters and even more limited availability of socio-economic support.
In Brazil, R4V partners continue to support the Area of Protection and Care (APC) in Boa Vista as a priority. Last week, the first batch of critical drugs was donated to the facility to treat severe cases and guarantee the best possible care for the patients. Partners have elaborated educational radio broadcasts available in Portuguese, Spanish, Warao to mitigate the impact of the closure of schools. Child protection messages were developed and distributed in Warao and Panare languages to prevent and mitigate child abuse and mistreatment especially among indigenous populations during the quarantine.
Chile has seen increasing contagion of COVID-19, and food insecurity is rising for refugees and migrants as well as host communities. R4V partners and civil society organizations are assisting large groups of homeless Venezuelans with temporary shelter, food and hygiene items for the most vulnerable. The National Platform is defining local sector strategies and is also supporting technical meetings in preparation of the upcoming Quito Process meeting.
In Colombia, the Grupo Interagencial para Flujos Migratorios Mixtos (GIFMM) is reviewing the guidelines for services during COVID-19, as an operational tool to support the response. The local GIFMMs continue to support the national government in the delivery of food assistance for refugees, migrants and host communities. Also, key WASH infrastructure has been enhanced through the provision of hygiene kits, as well as the delivery of protective equipment and disinfection items in public health spots.
The Grupo de Trabajo para Refugiados y Migrantes (GTRM) in Ecuador has succeeded in increasing considerably its assistance in food, multipurpose cash transfers and the delivery of non-food items, according to recent R4V platform monitoring. The results of a Rapid Needs Assessment were presented to various national sectors. In addition, the U-Report tool has been launched by the Communications Working Group providing up-to-date information on rights and on COVID-19 for young and adolescent refugees and migrants.
In Peru, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed that some 3,400 Venezuelan health professionals are expected to join the public health system. Thanks to private donations, he GTRM, in coordination with the Presidency of the Council of Ministries and the National Institute of Civil Defense (INDECI by its Spanish acronym), is organizing and providing logistical support for a second distribution of food kits for vulnerable refugees and migrants in Lima.
The Sub-Regional Platform and its partners in the Caribbean are coordinating upcoming distributions of food in Aruba and Curacao to address increasing food insecurity, while in the other countries R4V partners are supporting with emergency accommodation and rent subsidies for the most vulnerable Venezuelans.
In Central America and Mexico, partners of the Sub-Regional Platform provided workshops on psychosocial support and emotional wellbeing for refugee and migrant parents from Venezuela, and to inform about new national immigration procedures. In Panama, information regarding access to health services, education, regularization, psychosocial support, and referrals to the public health system and other specialized services were provided to Venezuelans.
In the Southern Cone, a series of tools directed to the protection of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, specifically against trafficking and GBV, are being developed by partners in the sub-region. In Uruguay, R4V partners began the implementation of a referral mechanism to partners, the National Refugee Commission and the Ministry of Social Development to facilitate coordination in the delivery of humanitarian assistance and to avoid duplication. Partners continue with the provision of shelter solutions, NFIs, food assistance and cash-based interventions to the most vulnerable.