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Colombia: Situational Report – December 2019

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By the end of 2019, more than 1.6 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela were living in Colombia, according to the Colombia Migration office (data as of October 31). As the number of arrivals increases, there is a growing demand to meet short-term needs, as well as to implement humanitarian actions that are strategic, durable and benefit both: the Venezuelan population and the host communities. The Interagency Group for Mixed Migratory Flows (GIFMM, by its Spanish acronym) is currently composed of 61 members at the national level and coordinates the humanitarian response for refugees and migrants from Venezuela, Colombian returnees, and host communities. In addition to the national level, the platform includes eight local GIFMMs covering 11 departments. Assistance is provided to the target populations, complementing the Colombian State’s response, and a back to back structure is utilized in close coordination with the Humanitarian Country Team.

OPERATIONAL CONTEXT

• On 9 December, the Colombia Migration Director, Christian Krüger, presented his resignation letter to the Government, thus making his resignation official. Kruger was in charge of the entity for five years, and remained in his position until 31 December, when his departure from the institution became effective.

• On 24 December, Colombia Migration announced the extension of the validity of the second Special Stay Permit (PEP for its acronym in Spanish), a measure that allows the Venezuelan population to legally reside in Colombia for a period of two years. This mechanism will be administered through the Colombia Migration website, where a certain amount of PEPs will be renewable daily according to the date of initial issuance of the document. Hence, more than 110,000 people who obtained the permit between February and July 2018 will have until June 2020 to renew the document, which will allow them access to the health system, formal employment and financial institutions.

• During December, the national strike which began on 21 November, continued. Different social and economic sectors raised 13 key issues to the national government. During this time, there was also an increase in expressions of discrimination and xenophobia against the population from Venezuela.

• Between 14 and 15 December, a television series called “Friends without Borders”, directed to children between 6 and 12 years old, premiered on the national television channel, Señal Colombia. The series, which is divided into 10 parts, tells stories of friendships between Colombian and Venezuelan children, promoting tolerance regardless of nationality or country of origin.