Colombia + 6 more

UNICEF Migration flows in Latin America and the Caribbean Situation Report | January - June 2020

Situation Report
Originally published



• In 2020, UNICEF aims at reaching 1.29 million people, including 633,000 children from the most vulnerable groups of Venezuelan migrants and disadvantaged host communities in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago. As of June, these countries concentrate 77 per cent of the population in need across the region.

• By end June 2020, 5.1 million Venezuelans had migrated worldwide, 4.3 million of whom are hosted in Latin America and Caribbean countries. The Venezuelan refugee and migrant crisis continues to be one of the largest migration emergencies.

• COVID-19 has been sorely hitting Latin America and Caribbean countries. Venezuelan refugees and migrants are among the vulnerable to COVID-19 health and socioeconomic impact. Brazil is the second most affected country in the world (1.37 million cumulative confirmed cases as of June 2020).

• Authorities and humanitarian partners, including UNICEF, reinforced preparedness and humanitarian measures. In this context, a revision of the 2020 Regional Migration Response Plan (RMRP) was conducted to better respond to and mitigate the COVID19 health and socioeconomic impact on refugees, migrants and host communities.

• A significant migration flow back to Venezuela has reached more than 80,000 people.

• High-level advocacy and technical support to governments during the reporting period contributed to significant achievements for migrant children. In Colombia, UNICEF provided a technical concept to the Constitutional Court to issue a historic decision to protect the right to nationality of children of Venezuelan parents in irregular situation, this has been incorporated into the Colombian ordinance for the prevention of statelessness.

• UNICEF is supporting the development of intersectoral guidance for national authorities and for schools, to ensure the safe reopening of schools in the region, in the COVID-19 context.

Situation in Numbers

1.98 million children in need of assistance (UNICEF HAC 2020, based on RMRP 2020)

6.17 million people in need of assistance (R4V, Apr. 2020)

4.3 million Venezuelan migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean (R4V, Apr. 2020)

5.1 million Venezuelan migrants worldwide (R4V, June 2020)

Funding Overview and Partnerships

In December 2019, UNICEF launched its 2020 Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC), which appeals for US$ 65.6 million. During the first semester of 2020, UNICEF has been delivering life-saving humanitarian assistance bridged with long-term access to basic services. Beneficiaries consist of 1.29 million people, including 633,000 children from the most vulnerable groups of Venezuelan migrants and disadvantaged host communities in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago. As of June 2020, UNICEF has US$ 22.8 million available, including US$ 8.9 million carried over from 2019 and US$ 13.8 million received in 2020. UNICEF is grateful for the generous contributions received from public and private donors, as well as global funds. The results achieved as of June 2020 in terms of protection, education, health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene would have not been possible without the continued support from key partners, including the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM), ECHO, Sweden, Canada, Norway, the Danish and Spanish Committees for UNICEF, and private contributions raised at country level.

The humanitarian needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela persist, including growing and mutable irregular migration flows, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic that is severely affecting Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). UNICEF requires additional flexible funding to: ensure capacity to adapt programming to the different priorities across the region; establish adapted mechanisms to identify and assess the situation of children in need; and, further expand its presence and integration efforts in urban and rural communities where migrant families are settling. A prolonged period of funding gaps (the current gap stands at 65 per cent) will hinder UNICEF capacity to respond to existing and emerging needs in a timely fashion.

To address the imminent health risks posed by COVID-19, UNICEF LACRO also launched the UNICEF COVID-19 Global Response, appealing for US$ 155 million (the total global appeal stands at US$ 1.6 billion). The two appeals, despite differences in scope and nature, are complementary.

Regional Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

The Venezuelan refugee and migrant crisis continue to be one of the largest migration emergencies worldwide. There are approximately 5.1 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants, of whom more than 4.3 million are hosted in LAC.
Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago host 3.3 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees.

The Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V) estimates that 6.17 million people in 2020 would require some form of assistance across 17 countries in the region, including: migrants in transit and destination countries, people crossing borders to meet basic needs on a temporary and usually repeated basis (pendular movements), returnees, and host communities4 . UNICEF estimates that 1.98 million children are part of the population in need of assistance.

Despite the commendable efforts of hosting countries, the situation of migrants and refugees is worsening. The first semester of 2020 has been dramatically marked by the global COVID-19 pandemic, which is challenging countries’ health and social welfare systems and sorely compounding the situation of already vulnerable groups. Venezuelan refugees and migrants are among the most affected by COVID-19 health and socioeconomic impact. Due to high levels of informal labour, the implementation of lockdown and other movement restrictions measures has had a disproportionate impact on refugees and migrants. While most of the countries have rapidly implemented social protection measures for vulnerable people, migrant populations, especially those in an irregular situation, are often excluded5 . Without savings or alternative social safety nets, the loss of employment has resulted in many being unable to cover their basic needs. In this context, many saw no other option than returning to their country of origin.
The migration flow back to Venezuela has reached more than 80,000 people, including 45,900 migrants between April and May only6 . Children and adolescents on the move are at risk of family separation, insecurity, trafficking, exploitation, child recruitment and gender-based violence (GBV). The scale and urgency of the needs have strained limited national capacities to absorb additional demand and is preventing children from enjoying their very basic human rights.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and in line with COVID-19 preventive measures, UNICEF is focusing efforts to ensure continuity of services for refugees and migrants, including vaccinations, WASH, education and protection services, and psychosocial support, as well as implementing cash transfer programmes to protect the livelihood of migrant families with children.

UNICEF responses continues, varying based on the countries’ context. In Colombia and Brazil the response has a strong multisectoral humanitarian component; in Ecuador and Peru tracking and assessing the needs of migrants in irregular situation, supporting regularization, integration and preventing xenophobia are major challenges; in Guyana, ensuring integration and availability of basic services for both migrants and disadvantaged indigenous host communities is critical; in Trinidad and Tobago ensuring visibility of the needs of migrants and integration remain priorities.