Persons of concern to UNHCR, both Colombians and Venezuelans refugees and migrants who were already in precarious conditions before the COVID-19 crisis, have been significantly affected by restrictive lockdown measures resulting from the health emergency. Despite the closure of borders and the imposition of a visa on arrival for Venezuelans, refugees and migrants continue to enter the country mainly through the so-called “trochas,” which are unofficial border crossings. This situation results in increased protection risks such as physical and sexual abuse, discrimination, exploitation, and a higher risk of trafficking.
In this dire context, besides addressing xenophobia and promoting solidarity, UNHCR delivers emergency assistance and pursues local integration by promoting self-reliance and resilience for people of concern, especially women at risk of sexual and gender-based violence, and by facilitating their access to rights, documentation, services, and livelihoods opportunities by working closely with national and local authorities, as well as the private sector and NGO partners. UNHCR is a crucial actor in developing the pathway to resilience and lasting solutions for refugees from the resilience perspective. To be a bridge in the humanitarian- development nexus for refugees and migrants, UNHCR identified the following prioritized areas: Protection, Emergency Assistance and Basic Needs, Livelihoods.