At the beginning of 2020, the outflow of refugees and migrants from Venezuela due to political, human rights and socio-economic developments in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (hereinafter Venezuela) continued in the thousands. By the end of June, it is estimated that the number of Venezuelans in countries across Latin America and the Caribbean stood at 4.3 million, compared to the 3.9 million as of January 2019, and the total estimate of refugees and migrants in the world stood at 5.2 million, compared to 4.8 million in the world as of December 2019.
However, the outflow from Venezuela through regular channels came to an almost-standstill as of late March/April 2020 when the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean led to the imposition of lockdown measures and border closures by most governments of the region, including Venezuela. Latin American and Caribbean countries were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, national governments and R4V partners alike were forced to respond not only to the existing refugee and migrant crisis but also to a health crisis with unforeseeable socio-economic impacts on host communities, as well as refugees and migrants from Venezuela. It also put health and social welfare systems to the test, as well as countries’ abilities to maintain an inclusive society.
Refugees and migrants from Venezuela found themselves in increasingly precarious situations, resulting primarily from their loss of livelihoods following measures put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and the fact that many refugees and migrants were not included in national social protection and health programmes adopted by host countries. As of June 2020, it was estimated by government authorities that more than 83,000 individuals returned to Venezuela. These return movements were largely triggered by the effects of measures adopted to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a review of the RMRP was conducted by all Platforms, Sectors and R4V partners in order to plan and implement a regional response adapted to the new challenges and adversities faced in the region as a result of the pandemic. The revised RMRP took into consideration the impacts of the pandemic on refugees, migrants and host communities in the region and the changes in the response which were necessary to meet the changing or exacerbated needs. These COVID-19-specific needs were also integrated into the RMRP section of the GHRP 2020 (page 75). Some primary adaptations included a shift towards remote modalities of assistance, including the increased use of hotlines and other forms of technology for the provision of information or for referrals and the increased importance of cash-based interventions (CBI), which could be implemented remotely. The re-prioritization exercise was conducted in strong coordination with all R4V partners, host governments and donors.
By June 2020, the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan had received 229.22 million USD in funding, representing 16.3% of the total requirements in the revised RMRP 2020 of May 2020. This had enabled R4V partners to reach a total of 1.6 million people with assistance, including refugees, migrants and host community members