As of 1 April, the borders of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and many countries of the Southern Cone and the Caribbean have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Various R4V partners report an increase in irregular movements which raises serious protection concerns associated to the increased vulnerability of refugees and migrants to trafficking, smuggling, exploitation and abuse as well as serious health considerations.
Many refugees and migrants from Venezuela had been working in the informal sector often without social protection. As a result, they are among those most affected by the movement restrictions imposed in most countries. Many are losing their sources of income, further weakening their ability to pay for rent, food and medicines. Additionally, it has been reported that increasing numbers of Venezuelans are homeless following evictions and closures of shelters, which is further impacting negatively on public perceptions of these refugees and migrants.
R4V partners have reported incidents of interruptions of healthcare provision for refugees and migrants from Venezuela. These incidents highlight the need to enhance advocacy for the inclusion of refugees and migrants in national COVID-19 response plans.