The current situation in Venezuela has led to a major outflow of refugees and migrants into neighboring countries and beyond, with over 4.7 million Venezuelans having left their country to date1 due to serious threats to their lives, security, freedom and other significant protection risks. The displacement of Venezuelan nationals in such a short period of time is the largest population movement in the recent history of Latin America and the Caribbean. This flow comprises both refugees and migrants from Venezuela and returning Guyanese. Venezuelans are leaving their country for a variety of reasons, including insecurity and violence, persecution and threats, lack of access to food, medicine and essential services, as well as loss of livelihoods and lack of effective national protection systems as a result of the current political and socio-economic situation in the country. Specific groups of Venezuelans are particularly vulnerable during displacement, including unaccompanied and separated children, survivors of gender-based violence (GBV), or those at risk of GBV, single women, people living with a physical or mental disability, as well as victims of human trafficking.
Inter-Agency Coordination Platform
In April 2018, the United Nations Secretary General tasked the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in accordance with their respective functions and mandates, to establish a Regional Inter-Agency Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela to lead and coordinate the response, including analysis, strategic planning and operational interventions. Within the framework of the Regional Inter-Agency Platform, the Sub-Regional Platform was established for the Caribbean in April 2019, covering Aruba, Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, as well as Trinidad and Tobago.
Caribbean Sub-Regional Context
Since 2017, the Caribbean continues to experience increasing numbers of arrivals despite the introduction of restrictions to access territories such as visa requirements and temporary closure of borders with Venezuela in most countries in the region; as of December 2019 a total of 100,000 Venezuelan refugees and migrants are estimated to be living in the region. Varying responses to the influx of refugees and migrants from Venezuela have been adopted by States in the Caribbean, taking into consideration their geography, language, legal and socioeconomic background, limited size and absorption capacity. Growing concerns about the number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela arriving in the Caribbean, coupled with the continuing deterioration of the situation in Venezuela, have led to push-backs in the region. This includes cases of non-admission, removals and deportations without granting access to asylum procedures or protection screenings in many instances. Limited or no access of partners to immigration detention facilities also remains a concern.
Arrivals in the Caribbean
The Caribbean region is expected to host an estimated 149,900 refugees and migrants from Venezuela by the end of 2020. 124,000 people out of the 149,900 will be in need of assistance, along with 66,100 other persons from host communities in countries of the sub-region. New arrivals will be predominant in Caribbean countries that share a land or sea border with Venezuela. Some onward movements among the Caribbean islands may also continue to be seen, thus further increasing risks of human trafficking and smuggling. Boat incidents of Venezuelans trying to reach countries in the Caribbean will continue to occur and likely increase throughout the year with the introduction of visa requirements in four out of the five concerned Caribbean countries2 .