Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are hosting over 3.7 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees out of the 4.5 million Venezuelans migrating worldwide. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is the country of origin for the second largest number of people displaced across international borders. Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago are hosting at least 2.8 million people – 77 percent of all migrants and refugees in the region. The projection for 2020 is that 6.5 million people will need assistance, including 1.9 million children, compared with 1.18 million children in 2019. The most disadvantaged indigenous populations are among those in need. The tighter immigration policies adopted by several countries in 2019 established requirements that often cannot be met. This new development has increasingly led migrants to consider irregular routes and has hampered the monitoring of children on the move, ultimately depriving these children of access to regular status and basic social services and preventing the integration of the most vulnerable, including indigenous people. Children and adolescents are at risk of family separation, insecurity, trafficking, exploitation, child recruitment and gender-based violence. The scale and urgency of the needs have strained limited capacities to absorb additional demand, and prevented children from accessing child protection, education, health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and social protection services. The migration flows include an increased number of families and young children hoping to reunite with their relatives. While humanitarian needs vary from country to country, it is clear that the crisis is evolving and more people are looking for opportunities in the main cities. This requires enhanced efforts to foster integration and build the long-term resilience of both migrants and host communities. Humanitarian and development partners must strengthen joint efforts with governments to respond to this crisis and prioritize integration.
Given the changing flow patterns and multidimensional nature of the migration crisis, combined with the higher number of people who are settling in urban areas, UNICEF will respond to each country context by bridging life-saving relief with efforts to foster longerterm access to basic services. In 2020, UNICEF will continue working in hotspots at the border and in the transit paths but will also scale up its response to address pressing needs in urban settings and keep child protection at the centre of its humanitarian action. UNICEF will apply the following approach in the six affected countries: 1) conduct humanitarian action as per humanitarian principles, in line with the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action, to ensure that children have access to protection, education, health, nutrition and WASH services; 2) enhance advocacy on the rights of migrant and refugee children and their families, in collaboration with national stakeholders and key partners; and 3) foster resilient and equitable development, focusing on social inclusion and integration, especially in Colombia and Peru, and advocating for migrant access to social protection systems. Key enablers for achieving the proposed approach include: supporting public systems to absorb additional demand, improving migrant and refugee capacities to better integrate into host communities, and supporting host communities to benefit from the opportunities created by the migration dynamic. UNICEF's response will cover border areas, transit routes and destination cities through an increased footprint on the ground.
Accountability to affected populations will be strengthened, as will the use of services that are age-, gender- and disability-appropriate. At the regional level, UNICEF will continue to provide technical assistance and quality assurance to the field, enhance advocacy efforts and contribute to the inter-agency Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan. This will include strategic leadership in the child protection, education, nutrition, WASH and communications sectors. Interagency initiatives will focus on supported space, communication for development, prevention and management of gender-based violence and information management.
Results from 2019
As of 31 August 2019, UNICEF had US$22.7 million available against the US$69.49 million appeal (33 per cent funded). UNICEF has a long-standing presence in the seven countries affected by the increased migration flow and has provided children and families – both migrant children and children from host communities – with protection support, life-saving relief and development assistance. With UNICEF support, more than 226,000 children received assistance through services and supplies in key areas such as education, health, nutrition, WASH, protection and social inclusion. More than 32,000 children were vaccinated, over 13,000 children aged 6 to 59 months received nutrition supplementation to prevent undernutrition and more than 66,000 children received psychosocial support, including access to child-friendly spaces. In Colombia, UNICEF supported the Government initiative to prevent statelessness, and in Ecuador, UNICEF contributed to strengthening procedures on protection and support for migrant children through the establishment of a national protocol for unaccompanied and separated children. Across affected countries, UNICEF supported ministries of education to revise and adapt current regulations to guarantee the inclusion of migrant children in the education system. In Peru, UNICEF prioritized formal education and early childhood development, reaching nearly 42,400 boys and girls, including adolescents on the move.
UNICEF supported local communities to build youth and adolescent capacities to play a positive role and prevent xenophobia through social media campaigns that reached more than 20 million people. As part of joint work with governments, UNICEF facilitated sessions on child protection in Brazil and worked with Panamanian national authorities to strengthen capacities to implement protocols for referring children in need of international protection. In Guyana, UNICEF supported local service providers to cope with the additional demand faced by education and child protection referral systems. In Trinidad and Tobago, UNICEF supported non-formal learning activities by providing language classes and establishing an online education platform. At the regional level, UNICEF established a multi-sectoral migration team to provide technical support, quality assurance and field visits to country offices. UNICEF contributed to the 2019 Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan, and plays an active role in the coordination mechanism.