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R4V Situation Report: Central America & Mexico (March 2021)

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Situation Report
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Situation

PANAMA

  • Draft Bill 578, which seeks to modify Law 3 of 2008 (the "Immigration Law") is currently up for debate in the National Assembly. This bill seeks to limit legal immigration and wouldrepeal the general migratory regularization processes (known as "Crisol de Razas") and restrict who is eligible for permanent residence.

  • Refugees and migrants continue todepend on humanitarian assistance provided by partner organizations: many have reported debt accumulation due to the impossibility to pay rent and services (water and electricity) for more than 6 months.

  • Despite the gradual reopening of some sectors of the economy, families requested financial support from R4V partners to cover food and rent expenses. Based on home visits conducted by R4V partners in March, many Venezuelan families are facing nutritional challenges, vulnerable to poor nutrition and low food security. Although arbitrary evictions were not reported in March, the risk of eviction remains high, due to delays in the payment of rent of 80% of the Venezuelan population supported.

  • As an important step towards equal access to education, the Ministry of Education and the National Authority for Government Innovation launched the Solidarity Educational Plan, which includes mobile data for the use of WhatsApp and access to technological platforms. Students and public school teachers will be able to connect to virtual platforms for free throughout the 2021 school year.

  • During the first quarter of the year, there has been a slight increase in asylum applications from Venezuelans, compared to the first quarter of last year: of the 90 applications received, 23 were by Venezuelan nationals, representing 25.5 percent. To date, there are some 2,517 applications from Venezuelans pending decision, making Venezuelans – after Nicaraguans – the second nationality with the most pending cases. With other Venezuelans notified that their asylum applications had been rejected, the number of Venezuelans in an irregular situation increased (as returning to Venezuela is not being considered as an alternative).

  • Venezuelans continued to enter through the Darien and request information about the refugee status determination process. According to monitoring by R4V partners, as of March 29, 14 Venezuelans were in Migrant Reception Stations (ERM) in Lajas Blancas, 4 in ERM San Vicente and 28 in Bajo Chiquito, many having arrived at the reception stations in poor health, with dermatological and gastrointestinal problems.