In 2020, Colombia continued to host the highest number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela (more than 1.7 million by December 2020), in addition to those in-transit and those engaging in pendular movements. Furthermore, the country hosts nearly 845,000 Colombian and binational returnees. Despite the commitment of the Government to support regularization, it is estimated that more than 56 per cent (almost 1 million) of the Venezuelans in the country remain in an irregular situation. Such irregularity, and the presence of irregular armed groups, increase refugees’ and migrants’ exposure to protection risks during border crossings and transit, while for those with the intention to stay, it poses additional barriers and limitations to accessing rights, services and opportunities.
The living conditions of refugees and migrants from Venezuela and their host communities have been significantly impacted by COVID-19 preventive measures. The widespread loss of income has decreased access to basic goods and services, including food, water, sanitation and shelter. Refugees and migrants have also been impacted by evictions, while shelters have reached their capacity limits. The socioeconomic impact of the pandemic initially resulted in a growing number of returns to Venezuela (an estimated 135,000 individuals). However, despite closed borders, since the third quarter of 2020, an increasing flow of reentries and new entries of refugees and migrants with exacerbated needs to Colombia has been observed.