UNHCR and IOM welcome donor pledges for Venezuelan refugees and migrants

Brussels: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) welcome the commitments made by donors today, amounting to US$2.79 billion, including US$653 million in grants, during the International Donors Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Conference, convened by the European Union (EU) and Spain, with the support of Canada, Norway, UNHCR and IOM, aimed to mobilize support for one of the largest external displacement crises in the world which is now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donors at the conference confirmed funding to support refugees, migrants and host communities in countries across the region where Venezuelans have found safety, healthcare and jobs.

“These contributions will make a real difference to the lives of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, who have been extremely hard-hit by the pandemic,” said UNHCR-IOM Joint Special Representative, Eduardo Stein.

“Countries in the region have responded to this unprecedented displacement with remarkable solidarity and hospitality, while facing significant challenges to their own economies and the social fabric of their societies. In the coming months, it will be crucial to maintain the leadership and commitment shown today in support of refugees, migrants and their hosts.”

To date, more than five million refugees and migrants from Venezuela have sought safety and protection across the world. The vast majority, around 80 per cent, are hosted across countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have now wreaked havoc on their lives and that of their hosts. Venezuelan refugees and migrants now face a myriad of challenges, including the loss of daily incomes and livelihoods to cover basic needs such as shelter, food and health care. Many are also at risk of being exposed to gender-based violence, stigmatization, exploitation and abuse.

“Amid the current global health emergency, many refugees and migrants from Venezuela are at risk of being left out of health and social welfare programs, especially those in an irregular situation,” said Stein.

“The commitments made today to support humanitarian efforts offer a ray of hope to many families who have lost everything they had. We thank Spain and the EU for their leadership in this process and now welcome Canada’s commitment today to move this forward.”

Today’s pledging conference follows the commitment made during a solidarity conference in Brussels in October to mobilize additional humanitarian funding for refugees and migrants from Venezuela and their host communities as well as financial support for their socio-economic integration in receiving countries.

Earlier this month, humanitarian organizations that comprise the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform (R4V) response – across 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, revised the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP). The Plan, which was initially launched in November last year, supports the efforts made by governments in the region to address the most pressing needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela as well as ensure their integration and inclusion in national systems.

The requirements of the RMRP amount to USD 1.41 billion, around one third of which are for COVID-19-specific activities. Critically underfunded, only 10 per cent (US$142 million) of the Plan’s funding requirements had been met prior to the conference.