Strategic Response Priorities
Prevent, mitigate and respond to protection risks of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, prioritizing those with specific needs, especially victims of trafficking and survivors of gender-based violence and labour exploitation.
Provide legal assistance and counselling to refugees and migrants from Venezuela, including with regard to article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Provide and improve safe and dignified access to essential goods and critical services such as food and non-food items, temporary accommodation and emergency shelter, and education.
Support and facilitate increased access of Venezuelans to livelihood opportunities and formal employment.
Promote social and economic integration and develop sensitization campaigns to combat xenophobia and discrimination.
Strengthen the capacity of the government and civil society organizations to combat human trafficking, migrant smuggling, and exploitation of refugees and migrants, and provide comprehensive assistance to persons with specific needs.
Enhance protection response, including shelter, for individual protection cases including sexual and gender-based violence and child protection.
Enhance access to basic healthcare, psychosocial support, and other essential health care services in response to the COVID-19 emergency.
Venezuelans are increasingly seeking safety in Curaçao as a result of the political, socio-economic and human rights situation in Venezuela, and many are in need of international protection. Most Venezuelans are arriving in Curaçao through official ports of entry without a visa if they meet immigration requirements or irregularly by sea. The closure of the maritime border between Venezuela and Curaçao and the interruption of regular transportation between the two countries in 2019 have resulted in a drop of regular arrivals and an upsurge of Venezuelans attempting to reach Curaçao through dangerous boat journeys, which exposes them to risks of human trafficking and smuggling. This situation is likely to continue in 2020 with frequent cases of undocumented new arrivals, considering the introduction of a visa scheme for Venezuelans in March 2020.
Curaçao does not consider itself bound by the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. Individuals who fear that their return to their place of origin would put them at risk of torture or cruel or inhumane treatment or punishment may apply for protection through national procedures pursuant to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the lack of knowledge about the legislation and legal procedures often prevent Venezuelans from seeking protection under Article 3.
While most Venezuelans have arrived in Curaçao through a formal visa or initial permit, many struggle to regularize their status, and as a result, are irregular in the country. The lack of legal status prevents them from accessing essential services such as health care and restricts their access to livelihood opportunities, which makes them particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Other challenges to access services include transportation and private insurance costs, lack of information, discrimination and language barriers. The lack of a regular status also heightens risks of detention and deportation and increase the risk of statelessness of newborn children. Increased focus on integration, especially social cohesion interventions benefitting both Venezuelans and host communities, will remain a priority in 2020.
In Curaçao the preventative measures taken by the Government to contain the spread of COVID-19, are having severe social and economic impacts on the Venezuelans who rely mainly on tourism for their income. Refugees and migrants are becoming increasingly vulnerable, and assistance to ensure basic needs such as food, non-food items (NFIs) and accommodation/ shelter have drastically increased. Refugees and migrants in Curaçao are mainly undocumented and therefore excluded from government social support mechanisms.
The Government of Curaçao has gradually eased the preventative measures from the second half of May onwards in phases. Non-essential businesses and commercial activities generally have resumed, while public life renormalized. Schools are gradually reopening while air travel however remains largely inhibited with outbound travel allowed, but inbound travel remains limited and permitted only under strict conditions.