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R4V Flash Update: COVID-19 Update, 27 March 2020

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On 25 March, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP). The GHRP seeks 2 billion US$ for humanitarian activities to address the impact of COVID-19 globally. The Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) is a distinct part of this global response and is noted as such in the GHRP.

With the ongoing spread of Covid-19, countries amplified their measures to contain the virus by limiting the movement of their populations. The impact on refugees and migrants with most countries in the region having closed their borders is severe, as they may risk denial of access to territories without alternate protection safeguards in place, and potential refoulement. With irregular border crossings continuing, isolated humanitarian corridors have been kept open between Venezuela and Colombia for those suffering chronic or severe medical conditions. Movement restrictions intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also impact the ability of R4V partners to maintain their operations, especially in the provision of shelter, NFI distribution, provision of services, including in Support Spaces and access to communal kitchens.

Many refugees and migrants from Venezuela face stigmatization and negative perceptions from host communities, associated with a fear of spreading the virus. An increase in the prevalence of xenophobia and discrimination has been noticed. Refugees and migrants, particularly those in irregular situations, are at a continued high risk of being left out of national responses. Those relying on daily incomes and working in informal labour sectors, are increasingly unable to meet their basic needs (notably shelter, food and healthcare) as a consequence of movement restrictions in place.