• By the end of 2019, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean were hosting 3.9 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees out of the 4.8 million Venezuelans migrating worldwide. Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana were hosting at least 3.2 million Venezuelans. The scale of needs resulting from the outflow has surpassed the capacities of receiving countries, further straining already vulnerable host communities.
• The second half of 2019 was marked by the adoption of tighter immigration policies in several receiving countries, which led to a stagnation in regular entries.
Nevertheless, the overall outflow does not seem to reduce. Entries through irregular means are ongoing, leaving many migrants, including children, at higher risk and without access to basic services like health, education, nutrition and protection. The profile of Venezuelan migrants has transitioned, recent waves are comprised of more vulnerable profiles, including increasing number of families and young children willing to travel in more precarious and dangerous ways.
• In 2019, UNICEF's response in seven countries reached over 288,000 children, from migrant and host communities, who received assistance through services and supplies in key areas such as education, health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), protection and social inclusion, as well as messages on life-saving skills, protective practices and behaviours. Furthermore, UNICEF led mass campaigns to disseminate messages on integration and prevention of xenophobia that reached millions of people across the region.
• UNICEF estimates that over 1.9 million children will need assistance in 2020 in countries receiving the highest influx of migrants. Humanitarian assistance to alleviate the needs of the most vulnerable migrant children and families, integration and long-term resilience solutions for both migrants and host communities will be at the core of UNICEF’s priorities in 2020.
Situation in Numbers
1.2 million children in need of assistance (UNICEF HAC 2019, based on RMRP 2019)
4.9 million people in need of assistance (UNICEF HAC 2019, based on RMRP 2019)
3.9 million Venezuelan migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean (R4V, Dec. 2019)
4.8 million Venezuelan migrants worldwide (R4V, Dec. 2019)
Funding Overview and Partnerships
In 2019, contributions to UNICEF´s Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) appeal for Children on the Move in Latin America and the Caribbean reached US$37.6 million of the total appeal of US$69.5 million (see Annex B). UNICEF is grateful for the generous contributions made from public donors, global funds and private donors which enabled UNICEF to scale-up its response across the region to address the most urgent needs of girls, boys and adolescents from Venezuela and host communities. The results achieved throughout the year in terms of protection, education, WASH, health and nutrition would not have been possible without the continued support from UNICEF´s key partners such as BPRM, ECHO, Sweden, Canada and Education Cannot Wait, among others.
However, the flows of migrants and refugees from Venezuela are growing and UNICEF estimates the number of children in need will increase to 1.9 million in 2020. UNICEF calls upon the international donor community, governments in the region and humanitarian actors to increase visibility for the Venezuelan migration crisis and ensure that addressing the urgent needs of girls, boys and adolescents is placed at the centre of the humanitarian response. UNICEF has launched a 2020 HAC appeal of US$64.5 million to deliver life-saving assistance and increase long-term access to basic services for migrant and refugee children, as well as vulnerable children in host communities. Given the changing nature of the migration crisis, UNICEF requires additional flexible funding to ensure capacity to adapt actions to the evolving priorities across the region.
A prolonged period of existing funding gaps will hamper UNICEF´s capacity to respond to existing and emerging needs in a timely manner. Without sufficient funding UNICEF will not be able to scale-up child protection services in a context of growing irregular migration flows and increased numbers of unaccompanied or separated children, coverage of health and nutrition programmes across the region will be reduced, access barriers to safe water and sanitation services will persist, and formal and non-formal education services supported by UNICEF will not be able to reach all the targeted girls, boys and adolescents in need.
Regional Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
By the end of 2019, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean were hosting at least 3.9 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees out of the 4.8 million Venezuelans migrating worldwide. The Venezuelan outflow is considered one of the largest and fastest-growing flows globally, and the largest displacement in the region’s recent history. Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil,
Panama, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana are hosting at least 3.2 million Venezuelans, which represents 67 per cent of the world total.
The second half of 2019 was marked by the adoption of tighter immigration policies across several countries, establishing requirements that often cannot be secured such as valid passports, criminal records, birth certificates and certified travel permits for children. The revised entry requirements may have triggered the use of irregular migration routes, further hampering the monitoring of migrant's situation, depriving them of accessing regular status and assistance, exposing the most vulnerable to various risks and preventing their integration in host communities. Although the introduction of these measures reduced drastically the entries through regular borders in Ecuador and Peru, it does not seem to have lessened the outflow. Between January and December 2019, at least 1.2 million people embarked in the migration journey from Venezuela to bordering countries, many continuing the journey towards a second country such as Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia or countries in the Southern Cone. The profile of Venezuelan migrants has transitioned from middle-class persons who had both the logistical and financial means to migrate through regular means, while in 2019, the migrants’ waves have been comprised of more vulnerable profiles, who were willing to travel through precarious and potentially dangerous ways, often by foot. These groups included increasing number of families with young children aiming to meet their relatives in the neighbouring countries.
In 2019, it was estimated that at least 1.2 million children needed assistance, among them the most vulnerable migrant children and those from disadvantaged host communities in neighbouring and transit countries. The scale and urgency of the needs have strained limited capacities to absorb additional demand, and prevented children from accessing child protection, education, health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and social protection services. In addition, barriers and challenges for integration remain, deepening the vulnerabilities of this population, including precarious labour conditions, difficulties in accessing immigration documentation, upsurge in xenophobia and gender-based violence, among others. The characteristics of the needs may vary from country to country yet, as the crisis deepens, fostering integration and building long-term resilience for both migrants and host communities remains great challenges for governments, humanitarian and development partners.