The Latin America and Caribbean region is increasingly impacted by natural disasters as well as population movements. In 2017, more than 15.6 million people - including 8 million children were affected by natural disasters. Hurricanes resulted in aggravating the humanitarian situation of more than 1.4 million people in Cuba, Haiti and the Eastern Caribbean islands. Mexico was severely hit by two major earthquakes in September 2017, while floods and landslides further exacerbated the needs of vulnerable children and their families in Colombia and Peru. The region has also been affected by several outbreaks such as Zika, cholera and yellow fever, as well as the reemergence of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and diphtheria. Most recently, the increasing outflow of Venezuelans to neighbouring and other countries has been severely affecting children and women, who are facing a wide range of changing protection risks and needs. Throughout the region, natural disasters and population displacements challenge children’s access to basic services and rights, including health, clean water, education, nutrition and protection. Despite significant progress in recent years, the humanitarian situation illustrates the importance of addressing urgent needs while strengthening emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction capacities.
Regional humanitarian strategy
In 2018, UNICEF's Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Office continues to work with governments, humanitarian and development actors, providing technical and programmatic support in WASH, education, health, nutrition as well as child protection. UNICEF emphasizes support to emergency preparedness and response, and promotes the implementation of improved risk-informed programming. UNICEF is increasing its human and financial resources, rolling out its supply and logistics strategy, and further investing in surge strategy to ensure that each Country Office is equipped to address the growing humanitarian needs. The regional office also invests its resources in preparedness by providing technical support to ensure compliance with the Minimum Preparedness Standards and to help COs develop risk analysis. There is special emphasis on addressing emerging needs associated with children on the move through supporting governments and partners in providing access to education, protection, basic services and rights. Building on the experience of Zika response, the regional office is ensuring readiness for responding to health emergencies, focusing on provision of essential supplies, tools and procedures for high-risk countries. The regional office continues to promote cross sectoral activities such as community engagement or communication for development, to reinforce the humanitarian-development nexus and maximize UNICEF’s impact to affected populations.
Results in 2018
As of 30 April 2018, UNICEF had US$3.9 million available against the original US$10.5 million appeal. In the first quarter of 2018, the region has already achieved results and advanced in its implementation of the new preparedness procedures. The RO has directly supported training and rollout in eight priority countries and all Country Offices (CO) are advancing toward completion of the Emergency Preparedness Platform by mid-year. All CO Representatives have been updated in preparedness and response, and risk informed programming, and have benefited from collective reflections on the lessons learned from recent emergencies. Risk analysis through the INFORM and application to CO risk informed programming has advanced in with working sessions and collaboration with national authorities in four target countries in the first quarter. Shock-resistant social protection systems have been promoted and strengthened in COs and with partners. The regional office has reinforced its human resource capacities in emergency management, supply and logistics, water and sanitation, nutrition in emergencies and human resources.
Migration flows in Latin America and the Caribbean
The scale of needs resulting from the outflow of Venezuelans is rapidly surpassing the capacities of receiving countries, further straining already vulnerable host communities. More than 1.5 million people have moved from Venezuela to Latin America and Caribbean countries. It is estimated that almost 1.8 million additional people may leave Venezuela by the end of 2018. Women, unaccompanied children and indigenous groups are particularly at risk of violence, discrimination, trafficking, exploitation and abuse. More than 600,000 people are estimated to be in need of WASH services throughout the neighbouring countries, and the health and nutrition situation of children and lactating women is also deteriorating due to the lack of available quality food and drinking water, and unsanitary conditions. While the situation is evolving and assessments are still ongoing in many of the receiving and transit countries, nearly 1.3 million people (400,000 children), including both migrants and host communities, are estimated to be in need of assistance in Colombia, Brazil, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. Thousands of children are not enjoying their right to education, as they face barriers related to language, legal status or local schools’ absorption capacities given the scale of migration. The dynamic and complex nature of population movements require ongoing monitoring and assessment and a differentiated and flexible response for the diverse group of vulnerable people.
Response strategy for migration flows in Latin America and the Caribbean
UNICEF is scaling up its response to children and women on the move, seeking to reach 180,000 children by the end of 2018. UNICEF will prioritise its response and scale up its capacities, field presence and programme activities in countries bordering Venezuela, while also providing advocacy and technical assistance to these and other receiving countries. The regional strategy promotes cross-sectoral activities such as cash-based programming and community engagement, while also ensuring to link humanitarian and development activities to improve the resilience of communities. UNICEF WASH response will reach nearly 120,000 people with access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene in schools, health centres and communities; UNICEF will also support the governments to ensure health and nutrition preventive and curative services to the most vulnerable populations. To address protection concerns, UNICEF will reach 56,000 children with protection services, including by establishing safe spaces and providing psychological support. More than 145,000 children will benefit from improved education services, including through supplies, learning spaces and enhanced capacities of national and local systems. To respond to emerging needs, UNICEF regional office will support country teams to continuously adapt risk analysis, through multi-sectoral assessments, preparedness plan and prepositioning of supplies in the most at-risk areas.
UNICEF is actively engaging with government partners, UN agencies as well as civil society organisations, while also to undertaking its coordination role as cluster lead for education, nutrition, WASH and child protection.