Skip to main content

UNICEF LACRO Humanitarian Situation Report No. 1 (Children on the move including from Venezuela, and COVID-19) 1 Jan - 31 March 2021

+ 7 more
Publication date


  • In 2021, an estimated 14.7 million people, including 5.5 million children, will need humanitarian assistance related to: migration flows from and returns to Venezuela; needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic; violence; and internal displacement. UNICEF aims at reaching 2.49 million people, including 1.82 million children from the most vulnerable groups of Venezuelan migrants, and other vulnerable populations affected by violence and COVID-19 in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago.

  • As of March 2021, about 3.4 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees had been recorded in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago. Despite movement restrictions related to COVID-19 containment measures, Venezuelan children and families continue displacing across borders in South America and the Caribbean. Many of them have taken irregular routes, exposed to concerning protection risks and lacking access to basic services.

  • During the reporting period, with UNICEF support, nearly 1 million children have accessed formal and informal education opportunities, over 23,000 children and women received primary health care, child feeding counselling was provided to over 2,200 parents and caregivers, 61,000 people were reached with critical water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) supplies and services, 94,000 children and caregivers received psychosocial support, over 3,300 families received humanitarian cash transfers and nearly 896,000 people were reached with key information on access to services.

  • By March 2021, UNICEF’s appeal was 91 per cent underfunded. Urgent support is needed to maintain and further scale-up response actions in the field. Without adequate funding, UNICEF will not be able to achieve its targets to reach the most vulnerable migrants and refugee families, and other extremely vulnerable children and families facing the effects of diminished livelihoods and limited access to services due to COVID-19.

Situation in Numbers

5.48 million children in need of assistance (UNICEF HAC 2021, based on RMRP 2021 and country estimates)

14.73 million people in need of assistance (UNICEF HAC 2021, based on RMRP 2021 and country estimates)

4.6 million Venezuelan migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean (RMRP 2021)

5.4 million Venezuelan migrants worldwide (RMRP 2021)

Regional Funding Overview & Partnerships

In December 2020, UNICEF launched its 2021 Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC), which appeals for US$100.3 million. i The purpose of this HAC is trifold: (a) meet the humanitarian needs – including COVID-19-related needs – of Venezuelan migrants, refugees and host communities (66 per cent of the total appeal) - in line with the 2021 Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP); ii (b) respond to other vulnerable children and their families affected by COVID-19 in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru (24 per cent);iii and (c) meet the needs of internally displaced and violence-affected children and their families in Colombia and Ecuador (10 per cent). As of March 2021, UNICEF had US$9.5 million available, including US$7.5 million carried over from 2020 and US$2.2 million received in 2021. Critical funding received to kick-start the response in 2021 include a flexible contribution from Sida – Sweden for addressing the needs of Venezuelan migrants and refugees, and host communities across all countries part of the appeal. In addition, allocations from UNICEF Global Humanitarian Thematic Funds were made to boost migration-related response, and COVID-19 support with focus on gender-based violence (GBV) prevention. Private funds were received in Peru from the Spanish Committee for UNICEF for the COVID-19 response in Peru.

The results achieved so far would have not been possible without the continued support from key partners, nevertheless with a funding gap at 90 per cent, additional flexible funds are urgently needed to: ensure capacity to adapt programming to the different countries’ priorities; establish adapted mechanisms to identify and assess the situation of children in need; and, further expand its presence and integration efforts. A prolonged period of funding gap hinders UNICEF capacity to respond to existing and emerging needs in a timely fashion. Approximately 80 per cent of resources received in 2021 and 53 per cent of carry over funds, are intended to address the needs of Venezuelan migrants, including those related to COVID-19.

Regional Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs

In 2021, UNICEF has prioritized actions in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago, where some 14.7 million people, including 5.4 million children, will need humanitarian assistance due to migration from and to Venezuela,v COVID-19 pandemic, and violence and internal displacement in Colombia and northern Ecuador.

There are 5.5 million Venezuelans on the move, and approximately 3.4 million in the countries covered by this HAC. Since 2020, many migrants have started returning to Venezuela because they were unable to cover their basic needs in host countries, creating the risk of circular migration. There are over 135,000 returnees, often in need of humanitarian assistance, and more are expected in the coming months. viii Children on the move, who are often unaccompanied, are extremely vulnerable. Despite countries’ efforts, children and adolescents on the move are at risk of family separation, insecurity, trafficking, exploitation, child recruitment and GBV. The scale and urgency of the needs have strained limited national capacities to absorb additional demand and is preventing children from enjoying their basic human rights.

Vulnerable groups in the region are also confronting COVID-19, as well as violence and internal displacement in Colombia and Ecuador. Among those affected, local indigenous people and people in the poorer wealth quintiles, particularly women and girls, are most vulnerable. COVID-19, at its second or third wave, has decreased government capacities to deliver services, which were already stretched by pre-existing crises. In Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, approximately 7.5 million vulnerable peopleix are estimated to be in need of assistance due to the socio-economic effects of COVID-19.

Despite the challenging context, UNICEF is focusing efforts to ensure continuity of services for vulnerable people, including health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education, protection, and psychosocial support services, as well as implementing cash transfer programmes. UNICEF responses, which vary based on the countries’ context, continue to focus on the most in need.