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Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Colombia Situational Update: Report No. 1, January – September 2018

Situation Report
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According to official Colombian government figures, by the end of October 2018 more than 1 million Venezuelans are estimated to be living in Colombia. This is an increase from less than 39,000

Venezuelans living in Colombia at the end of 2015. Refugees and migrants have settled not only in border areas, but also in urban centres across the county. More than 23.5% are in Bogota alone.

People are arriving with progressively more urgent humanitarian and protection needs.
The GIFMM supports the Government with technical assistance to respond to these needs.


  • The movement of refugees and migrants from Venezuela to Colombia includes: people who have a Special Stay Permit; those who are in transit towards Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina; those who enter temporarily to acquire food, medicine and other basic products, and visit relatives; and Colombian returnees and mixed families.

  • More than 1 million Venezuelans have settled not only in border areas, but also in urban centres across the county. In addition, returning Colombians and mixed Colombian-Venezuelan families are settling in Colombia.
    Transnational indigenous people (Yukpa, Motilon Bari and Wayuu), who have lived on the Venezuelan side, are entering Colombia in vulnerable conditions.

  • A total of 233,806 of 442,000 Venezuelans registered in a mass registration exercise (RAMV for its Spanish acronym) which was led by the government between April and July, have obtained a Special Stay Permit (PEP) enabling them to remain in Colombia regularly for up to two years, with full access to their basic rights.

  • Venezuelan refugees and migrants continue to cross Colombia by foot (known as ´walkers´) towards key cities in the country, or towards Ecuador and other countries. The most direct route to Ecuador from Cúcuta is 1,430 kilometres, which can take more than one month of walking in difficult and dangerous conditions. The first section of the journey, the 195 kilometres between Cúcuta and Bucaramanga, includes an ascent from 320 to 2,900 metres above sea level (Páramo de Berlin) and through areas controlled by armed groups.

  • Refugees and migrants have urgent humanitarian and protection needs. Access to health, shelter, education and drinking water are some of the pressing needs identified. For example, only 48.7% of school age children registered in the government´s mass registration exercise (RAMV), are currently attending school.

  • Lack of regular status creates key protection risks including labour and sexual exploitation, situations of discrimination and difficulty in accessing basic services.