The exodus of Venezuelan nationals is the largest in the recent history of Latin America and the Caribbean and has become the second largest international displacement crisis in the world. Of the approximately 5.9 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela globally, some 4.8 million are in Latin America and the Caribbean. By end of 2020, there were 851,119 pending asylum claims from Venezuelans worldwide and 171,127 Venezuelans recognized as refugees in the world. Some 2.6 million residence or regular stay permits have been issued to Venezuelans by Latin American countries. The rest are living in an irregular situation and exposed to greater risk of various forms of exploitation and abuse, due to limited access to rights, including national health, social welfare programmes and basic services.
As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, many refugees and others have lost their sources of income, which further hampers their ability to pay rent and buy food and other essentials, as medicine. Evictions, compounded by the closure of some shelters, led to a spike in homelessness which has further eroded public perceptions of refugees and migrants. In Latin America and the Caribbean, UNHCR works to support this population and fosters their access to rights, included to national vaccination programmes. UNHCR co-lead Inter-Agency efforts to respond to these challenges, addressed by the 2021 Refugee and Migrant Response Plan.