Americas Region: Population Movement Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) MDR42004, 2 November 2018

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

The Americas is a culturally diverse, geographically large and economically complex region, which accounts for around 26.3 per cent of the world’s migrants (68 million people). Poverty, family reunification, inequality and violence are common factors that motivate people to migrate in the Americas.

As of July 2018, official government data indicated that around 2,329,000 Venezuelans were living outside of Venezuela, and more than 1.6 million Venezuelans have left the country since 20151, with approximately 90 per cent of them migrating to countries within South America; however, this figure is likely higher, as most data sources do not account for Venezuelans with irregular migratory status, who are more vulnerable to violence, discrimination, trafficking and other forms of exploitation and abuse in their host countries.

Estimates per country figures for Venezuelan migrants vary slightly according to the source, and no common consolidated figure for the region is available; nevertheless, all sources clearly indicate that migration from Venezuela to other regional countries is drastically increasing.

An increase in the number of migrants and their desired destinations are signals that the current mobility situation is fluid and unpredictable. Venezuelans initially preferred air travel to reach countries such as the United States of America, Spain, Argentina, Chile and Panama; however, land and maritime routes are now preferred because of the high cost of air travel and the limited availability of flights leaving Venezuela. Additionally, given the short distances some migrants are traveling to neighboring Caribbean islands, such as Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and Trinidad and Tobago by boat or to Colombia, the main destination in South America for Venezuelans, by land.

Host countries are increasingly struggling to respond to the influx of Venezuelans since the rising number of people is putting a strain on national basic services, especially in border areas. In response, some countries in South America have attempted to deter Venezuelans from entering their territory by limiting entry to only people with a valid passport or enforcing quotas at the border.