1.1 Humanitarian Architecture and existing mechanism
In 2018, the United Nations (UN) began to expand the provision of humanitarian assistance in Venezuela, complementing the actions of national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). However, it was only during the first half of 2019 that the UN implemented a humanitarian coordination architecture in accordance with international standards, as indicated in Resolution 46/182 of the United Nations General Assembly (1991) and on the basis of the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. This included the appointment of the Humanitarian Coordinator who leads the Humanitarian Country Team for strategic decision-making, the activation of eight thematic Clusters (Health, Education, WASH, Food Security, Nutrition, Logistics, Shelter, Energy and NFI and Protection including two dedicated areas of responsibility on child protection and GBV) to operationalize the response, an Inter-cluster Coordination Group, and four field coordination hubs (CCT - Centros de Coordinación en el Terreno) in Táchira, Bolivar, Zulia and Grand Caracas to ensure assistance as close as possible to people in need. UNHCR is the leading agency of the Protection Cluster that also incorporates two Areas of Responsibility specifically dedicated to child protection and gender-based violence that are coordinated by UNICEF and UNFPA respectively. The Protection Cluster also has three clusters at the sub-national level in Táchira, Zulia and Bolivar.
This coordination structure brings together all humanitarian actors, including national and international NGOs, UN agencies, funds and programs, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as an observer, all which have considerably increased their ability to respond to the crisis in Venezuela. In addition, OCHA has been established to support the entire structure.
1.2 The Humanitarian Needs Overview and Humanitarian Response Plan 2020/2021
The Venezuela Humanitarian Response Plan with Humanitarian Needs Overview 2020 was published on 15 July 2020 as a hybrid document. It aims to provide 4.5 million vulnerable Venezuelan women, men, girls, and boys with humanitarian assistance. The Plan has a financial requirement of US$762.5 million to provide health care, water, sanitation and hygiene, food security and nutrition, shelter, protection, and education support. It builds on the humanitarian work carried out in 2019 through three strategic objectives: providing life-saving emergency assistance; securing livelihoods by improving access to basic services; and ensuring protection of the most vulnerable. Some 129 humanitarian organizations – including United Nations agencies and international and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – are implementing the Plan, working closely with national institutions. The Plan incorporates the United Nations-led efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated health and other humanitarian needs and has also led to the return of thousands of Venezuelans from neighbouring countries who also need urgent support.
Within the HNO/HRP 2021, the Protection Cluster targets a vulnerable population of 2.6 M through 67 approved projects that were submitted by 58 partners of the Protection Cluster to achieve the following sectoral objectives: 1) Provide specialized assistance for the physical, mental and psychosocial wellbeing of people affected bydifferent forms of violence, exploitation, neglect and abuse, 2) Facilitate access to legal documentation, and 3)
Strengthen the empowerment of communities, State institutions and civil society to prevent, mitigate and respond to the protection risks associated with displacement and mobility, including those related to gender-based violence and child protection.
Limited humanitarian access, due to the movement restrictions deriving from the Government-imposed quarantine, fuel shortages, and the low funding of the humanitarian response, are significant operational challenges. Despite this, the Protection Cluster has been able to maintain critical programs, including its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, benefiting as of November 2020 roughly one and a half million women, men, boys, and girls with specific protection needs.
1.3 The Protection Cluster in Venezuela
The Protection Cluster (PC) is a broad-based, participatory forum, comprising on an equal basis of United Nations agencies, human rights and development organizations and actors, as well as local and international nongovernmental organizations. The Protection Cluster englobes over hundred-member organizations, making it one of the largest in the cluster system for Venezuela. In addition to the national level, the Protection Cluster has subnational structures with participation in the CCTs of Zulia, Táchira, and Bolivar. UNHCR Heads of Field Office in Maracaibo, San Cristobal and Ciudad Guyana double-hat as Cluster Coordinators at sub-national level. The Protection Cluster also incorporates two Areas of Responsibility specifically dedicated to child protection and gender-based violence that are coordinated by UNICEF and UNFPA respectively. Also, these two AoRs have a sub-national structure in Zulia, Táchira, and Bolivar.
A Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) consisting of three permanent members (the Protection Cluster Coordinator and the two AoRs Coordinators) and five rotating members (in this first shift they are: CESVI, Tinta Violeta, Voces de Género, UNHCR and OHCHR) supports the Protection Cluster Coordinator and it’s AoRs to develop and implement the strategic framework, priorities, and work plan for the cluster. The SAG also provides guidance on protection trends and emerging issues and recommendations on cluster response. Members of the PC meet periodically to provide updates and, as necessary, to discuss trends and coordinate action on critical issues. Members may call extraordinary meetings - upon consultation with cluster leads - especially when urgent action is needed.