BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
The Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (hereinafter ‘RMRP’ or ‘the Plan’) for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela was first launched in 2019 as a response to the large-scale population movements registered in Latin America and the Caribbean as a result of the political, socio-economic and human rights situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (hereinafter Venezuela). As of October 2019, more than 4.5 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela are outside their country of origin, with 3.7 million in the region alone. As per current trends, it is estimated that the number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela included in government official figures in countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, will reach up to 5.5 million by the end of 2020, a noteworthy increase from the 140,000 in 2015.
Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have demonstrated continuous solidarity and generosity towards Venezuelans, with many of them maintaining an openborder policy and some even adjusting their legislations to meet the needs of the refugees and migrants. By October 2019, government efforts resulted in more than two million residencies issued to Venezuelans, while more than 630,000 have been registered as asylum seekers or recognized as refugees. In several countries, additional exercises to register and regularize the status of undocumented refugees and migrants from Venezuela are underway.
Despite the efforts of receiving countries, this unprecedented influx has placed immense pressures on governments and host communities. These pressures often take multiple forms and operate in parallel, ranging from stresses on public services and budgets to negative public opinions and attitudes towards the Venezuelan population, including an increase in expressions of xenophobia and social rejection. During 2019, new or revised entry requirements for refugees and migrants from Venezuela have been introduced by several governments impacting the ability of refugees and migrants to regularly enter and stay the concerned countries. Following the introduction of these visa requirements by various countries in mid-2019, irregular border crossings have significantly risen, with government figures therefore not capturing the actual presence of refugees and migrants in those countries.
In this context, an increasing number of refugees and migrants from Venezuelan remain in irregular situations for reasons that include lack of documentation, administrative procedures and access restrictions, long waiting periods and high application fees for visas, among others. Venezuelans who are not able to access a regular status have become more vulnerable to all forms of exploitation and abuse, violence and discrimination, smuggling and trafficking and negative coping mechanisms.
In 2020, the RMRP will complement and strengthen the national responses and the regional efforts of governments to respond to the increasing flows of refugees and migrants from Venezuela in the 17 countries that form the Plan. The needs detected in transit and destination countries mainly include emergency humanitarian needs, including access to basic services; protection needs, including predictable regular status, documentation and information on access and availability of services and rights; and socio-economic integration needs, including access to the labour market, social and cultural integration and the recognition of academic degrees, titles and skills in host countries.
The 2020 response to the outflow of refugees and migrants requires partners to involve a longer-term, planned approach, still focused on ensuring immediate assistance and protection of new arrivals, but also considering activities that intend to bridge the nexus between a humanitarian emergency response and the longer-term perspective to build resilience at the individual beneficiary level as well as at institutional level.
In this context, this Plan is the result of field-driven planning, bringing together 137 appealing organizations, in consultation with host governments, civil society and faith-based organizations, local communities, donors, as well as the refugees and migrants themselves with common objective of addressing the overarching humanitarian, protection and socioeconomic integration needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela.