In 2021, more than 3 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela and the communities hosting them received assistance from organizations working in partnership through the R4V Inter-Agency Coordination Platform to carry out activities of the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP). A total of 159 different UN Agencies, NGOs, academia and civil society organizations – including numerous Venezuelan refugee and migrant-led organizations – participated as appealing partners in the RMRP 2021 to support Venezuelan refugees and migrants.
The R4V is the largest regional inter-agency refugee and migrant response in the world, in terms of the geographic scope of the response, covering 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Although many countries of the region continued with closed borders and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the needs faced by vulnerable women, men, girls and boys from Venezuela compelled them to cross borders in search of safety, dignity and rights and to satisfy humanitarian, protection and integration needs. By the end of 2021, there were more than 6 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela in the world, almost 5 million of whom were hosted by countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Border closures and travel restrictions meant that growing numbers of refugees and migrants in 2021 were forced to use irregular travel routes, where they faced hazards from inclement weather and harsh terrain, as well as risks from human traffickers and smugglers, including physical and sexual violence, extortion, robbery, kidnapping, forced recruitment and other forms of harm. There were limitations on access to territory, asylum and registration procedures, documentation, rights and services. Refugees and migrants were also harder- hit by socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, saw larger reductions in their household income, had higher rates of forced evictions and homelessness, and encountered more barriers to access social support programs than their local counterparts.
Because of this, the work of RMRP partner organizations was essential, to provide services and assistance to refugees and migrants from Venezuela to reduce their vulnerability, mitigate their risks, help connect them to social support programmes and guarantee effective access to national protection systems, and overall promote their protection and integration.
One of the main needs identified by refugees and migrants from Venezuela across the region in 2021 was food insecurity. In response, R4V Food Security Sector partners provided food assistance to more than 1.5 million refugees and migrants as well as vulnerable members of host communities. Warm meals were served at shelters, food baskets were distributed at reception facilities, and partners provided cash and voucher assistance (CVA) so that families could make their own choices about household food purchases and support local economies and markets in the process.
R4V Nutrition Sector partners focused on addressing the particular nutrition needs of pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of five, to prevent and treat acute malnutrition, providing micronutrient tablets and supplements, and training to support culturally appropriate healthy feeding practices and breastfeeding for infants, in cooperation with local and national authorities and other sectors.
In the middle of the ongoing global health emergency, R4V Health Sector partners were on the front lines of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic for refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Thanks to advocacy and operational support from R4V partners to government health systems across the region, refugees and migrants were included in national COVID-19 vaccination plans, with R4V partners in some countries directly facilitating the application of vaccines to Venezuelan refugees and migrants, while partners in other countries provided medicines, equipment, and operational support to public health systems. R4V partners supported more than 1.2 million Venezuelans and members of host communities to access health systems to receive necessary care, medicines and other life-saving treatment.
Venezuelans received drinking water and had access to restrooms, showers, sanitation facilities and hygiene items thanks to R4V WASH Sector partners, who installed and maintained critical sanitation infrastructure, including at border crossings, in shelters, reception centres, and Support Spaces throughout the region, and distributed personal protective equipment (PPE), hygiene kits and menstrual hygiene items to thousands of vulnerable refugees and migrants.
Providing shelter to refugees and migrants otherwise in danger of homelessness was another key area of the RMRP response, especially with so many vulnerable individuals and families facing eviction or with difficulty finding stable housing in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 260,000 refugees and migrants from Venezuela and members of vulnerable host communities received support from R4V Shelter Sector partners in 2021. Partners opened new shelters, expanded and improved existing facilities (including to comply with COVID-19 protocols) and provided rental support through CVA for vulnerable households, supporting their access to longer-term shelter solutions.
R4V Protection Sector partners worked to reduce refugees and migrants’ vulnerability to threats of violence, exploitation and abuse, and increased their access to national protection systems through documentation, registration, regularization and legal stay alternatives, especially for those otherwise in irregular situations. Protection partners reached over 852,000 Venezuelans and members of host communities with support in 2021, including through activities such as assisting with birth registration of children born to Venezuelan parents, providing differentiated support for members of indigenous communities, engaging in anti-xenophobia campaigns together with host communities, providing legal assistance and counselling to access regularization and asylum procedures, and data collection on disproportionate impacts of key protection risks among population groups. Protection partners staffed a total of 206 Support Spaces for Venezuelans throughout the region, where refugees and migrants received holistic assistance from intersectoral actors to provide comprehensive support. Partners in the Sub-sectors of Child Protection, Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Human Trafficking and Smuggling provided specialized assistance and training to the authorities responsible for identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking, survivors of gender- based violence, and children with special protection needs, especially separated and unaccompanied children.
R4V partners provided safe and reliable Humanitarian Transportation to reduce refugees’ and migrants’ exposure to risks on dangerous routes and their vulnerability to human traffickers and smugglers. More than 86,000 Venezuelans received humanitarian transportation support throughout the region, with the sector far surpassing its goals for people reached in countries like Colombia (310%) and sub-regions such as the Southern Cone (124%).
To help refugees and migrants on their path to local integration and longer-term stability, R4V Integration Sector partners, working together with host communities and governments, development actors, the private sector, and refugees and migrants themselves, worked to promote linkages between regularization and documentation efforts and access to work opportunities, employment and income for refugees and migrants. Partners provided employment skills trainings, support for small business creation, facilitated access to the local job market and promoted social cohesion for more than 230,000 Venezuelans in 2021.
Finally, Venezuelan refugee and migrant children could access schools thanks to support from R4V Education Sector partners, who worked to improve registration and retention rates in national education systems. Venezuelans and vulnerable host community families received school supplies and other forms of financial support to cover the costs associated with school attendance, including cards for WiFi access and tablets to be able to participate in remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. R4V partners also supported Venezuelan children and adults to validate academic and professional degrees earned abroad, which helped them to continue their educations or access better job opportunities.
A response of this scale required a well-coordinated structure at the regional, sub-regional and national levels, to ensure efficiency and avoid duplication of efforts, and promote Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP), Communication with Communities (CwC), ensure adequate measures in place for Protection against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA), mainstream the centrality of protection (CoP) and issues such as gender and the environment across all organizations and activities of the RMRP. The R4V Regional Platform ensured that there were designated technical experts in these areas, as well as co-leads of the nine Regional Sectors and three Sub-Sectors, and for the key assistance modality of Cash and Voucher Assistance (CVA), with the leadership structure at the regional level representing more than 16 different UN agencies and NGOs. The information management and reporting framework established by the R4V Regional
Platform, meanwhile, including through tools such as the 5Ws Monitoring Dashboard, allowed all partners to regularly provide information on progress and people reached, including per Regional Sector and National and Sub-Regional Platform, in a publicly accessible format. Information on funds received for RMRP activities was reported through the Financial Tracking Service (FTS) and visualized on the R4V Funding Dashboard. Regular reports – including Situation Reports and Population Updates – were published on R4V.info to provide updates on RMRP partners’ activities and important context developments, as well as communications content on a variety of platforms, including Twitter and YouTube.
The RMRP overall received 605 million USD or 42% of the requested 1.4 billion USD to provide assistance to a targeted 3.30 million people, including refugees and migrants from Venezuela and host communities. It is important to note that the financial information available through FTS on the funding of the response – which is the information reflected in this report and others by R4V – accurately reflects what appealing organizations have reported as received, particularly at the regional level for the RMRP, but may not include an accurate break-down per sector or country of the response: this is because unearmarked or softly earmarked funds from donors that are not assigned to a given sector or country at the time of receipt are also not so assigned in FTS. Unearmarked funds from donors are greatly appreciated as they allow for agencies’ flexibility to ensure that they are directed to the countries, sectors and activities of greatest need. Funds received for a particular sector and country, according to the information reported via FTS, are therefore referenced in this report as “designated funding,” but do not include the total amounts that agencies may have actually spent on activities in those particular sectoral or geographic areas.
The Donors’ Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants, hosted by the Government of Canada in June 2021, was a key event to raise funds to support host governments and organizations assisting refugees and migrants in the region. The R4V Regional Platform – including all nine Regional Sectors and three Sub-Sectors – hosted a series of high-level side events to highlight the main needs of refugees and migrants in the context of the pandemic and the RMRP response. In connection to the events, informational videos were produced to raise awareness among the donor community.
It would not have been possible to assist over 3 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela and members of affected communities without the support of host and donor governments, as well as refugees and migrants themselves, andthe159appealingorganizationsoftheRMRP,tomakethis response a reality. Thank you for your support of R4V. Information on the current R4V response is available in the RMRP 2022 and related materials on r4v.info, including ways to support our ongoing efforts.