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R4V Response for Venezuelans – Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela: Central America and Mexico Situation Report - January 2020

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Situation

A significant change in trend was iden#fied by the partners in Panama during the month of January. The Venezuelan popula#on, mainly residing in urban se1ngs, is moving towards the interior of the country due to the limited economic opportuni#es in Panama City, and the high cost of living. A considerable percentage of cases contacted during the protec#on monitoring reported that they have changed their residence to the Province of Panamá Oeste, Province of Herrera and Province of Veraguas, which are mainly rural se1ngs.

A report published by the Organiza#on of American States (OAS) noted Costa Rica´s efforts to maintain an open border policy for Venezuelans, such as accep#ng expired passports. The report1 also highlights that Venezuelans who arrived in Costa Rica during the last five years face greater vulnerability than those who arrived between 2010 and 2014. To produce the report, experts visited the country and met with various groups to understand their situation in Costa Rica, confirming that most venezuelans flee from widespread violence, disruption of public order, and viola#on of human rights. The report states it is essential to create the bases for a regional consensus that grants refugee status to Venezuelans according to the Cartagena Declaration, as expressed by the OAS working group for this topic in a June 2019 regional report. The report also calls to speed up creation of a complementary protection pathway and encourages foreign donors to provide assistance – be it financial or technical.

In January 2020 UNHCR Costa Rica announced that refugees and asylum seekers could request medical insurance at their main offices. This insurance program is being founded by UNHCR (La Nación, 2020).

In Mexico, January started with a total of 52,982 permanent and temporary residents, students and humanitarian visa holders (as of 31st December 2019) and 18,501 Asylum applicants2 . Partners in MX informed that obtaining accurate figures of Venezuelans applying for asylum in Mexican airports remains a challenge.