Contribution in support of UNHCR's response to the influx of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Colombia
UNHCR’s overall strategic objective under the Venezuela Situation response in Colombia is to ensure protection and life-saving humanitarian assistance as well as promote peaceful coexistence and community integration among Venezuelan refugees and migrants, their host communities as well as Colombian returnees from Venezuela.
Under its planned intervention in the 2019 Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP), UNHCR in Columbia will:
- Provide legal assistance and orientation to an estimated 47,647 persons arriving from Venezuela;
- Support up to 11,330 Venezuelans with cash-based assistance (multi-purpose grants as well as cash for shelter/cash for rent);
- Assist 30,706 persons with non-food items and non-cash assistance in shelters;
- Register up to 40,000 persons with specific protection needs;
- Support the larger refugee, migrant and returnee population in Colombia through protection monitoring activities and systems for referrals.
Austria's contribution of EUR 1,000,000, could help to support at least 16,400 Venezuelan refugees and migrants as well as Colombian returnees and host community members.
Main partners include: IOM, Corporación Opción Legal, Caritas Colombia (Secretariado Nacional de la Pastoral Social) and Corprodinco, as well as international NGOs such as the Norwegian Refugee Council, Action against Hunger and the Danish Refugee Council.
Activities would be implemented in locations where refugees and migrants are concentrated, mainly along the border with Venezuela, the Atlantic Coast, Bogotá, Medellín and the southern border with Ecuador which is where 60% of Venezuelans crossing into Colombia continue their path towards countries farther south.
- Procurement of equipment, initial set-up and camp management for a new transit center with a capacity of up to 1,000 persons in Maicao, La Guajira department. The exact number of beneficiaries depends on turnover rates and will be determined once the center is running. However, at least 10,000 persons are expected to benefit from the center during 2019.
- Provision of cash assistance to up to 300 persons with specific protection needs;
- Provision of non-food items for 500 persons with specific protection needs;
- Provision of shelter throughout the country-wide shelter network for at least 1,500 persons;
- Consultation with 500 refugees, migrants and returnees during protection monitoring visits;
- Registration of 4,000 persons with specific protection needs;
- The continuation of a successful anti-xenophobia campaign (Somos Panas Colombia) which has reached over 30 million people since its establishment and will inform local-level activities in schools and communities in 2019, benefiting at least 2,000 persons;
- Support to education and child protection activities benefiting at least 800 Venezuelan and host community children.
With Colombia being the country most heavily affected by the arrival of Venezuelans (more than 1 million are present in the country as of October 2018), absorption capacities are overwhelmed in many locations and refugees and migrants face risks to their safety, well-being and basic rights. More than half of those present in the country do not have a regular migratory status and are therefore unable to access basic services such as education or health care, or obtain formal employment to help them meet their basic needs. This makes them particularly vulnerable to protection risks such as forced recruitment by armed groups and use for illegal activities, sexual exploitation and abuse, human trafficking, among others. In addition, ongoing internal conflict and violence in some regions continues to affect tens of thousands of people in Colombia, including in border regions where Venezuelans are arriving.
In April 2018, the UN Secretary-General asked UNHCR and IOM to coordinate and steer the operational response. The two organizations set up a Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela, which sees the participation of 40 entities among United Nations (UN), national and international non-governmental institutions, international and regional financial institutions, donor community, and civil society organizations. The Regional Platform has national chapters in most of the countries covered by the regional response, which in Colombia is called Interagency Mixed Migration Group (GIFMM for its Spanish acronym), co-led by UNHCR and IOM. UNHCR is therefore in a strong position to ensure the complementarity of its actions with those of the other thirty-eight organizations and State actors both at the local and national levels.