The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) received an allocation of 7 million Euro (about $8.1 million) from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) devised to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Venezuelan refugees and migrants and their host communities in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Latin America is becoming the new epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, and refugees and migrants from Venezuela have been severely impacting, the UN agency said.
Since at least 2013, when the socialist leader Nicolas Maduro first took over, some 5.5 million Venezuelans have fled the oil-rich but humanitarian-crisis stricken nation, according to the Organization of American States figures.
Some 60,000 migrants that have been forcing to return to Venezuela, precisely, due to Coronavirus hit in their host countries.
The allocation is a “vital contribution” that comes “at a crucial time for hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, the regional office of the UN Refugee Agency, located in the Panamanian capital, reported on Monday, 27 July.
The Venezuelan exodus
According to the UNHCR, the exodus of Venezuelans represent the biggest displacement crisis in the history of the Western Hemisphere and the second displacement crisis in the world. There are more than five million people, including refugees and migrants from Venezuela, and some 4.3 million have looking for protection in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Many people are being affected by the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the economy and public health systems,” said the director of UNHCR’s Bureau for the Americas, Renata Dubini.
The loss of jobs and incomes due to the restrictions of mobilizations have left many people unable to afford food, rent, and other basic needs. These difficulties have led to the eviction of many refugees and migrants, putting them at risk of gender-based violence, exploitation, abuse, and discrimination.
In this context and through this cooperation, UNHCR and the EU’s Humanitarian Aid department will be able to ensure that vulnerable families and individuals, including children, pregnant women and the elderly, receive protection and vital humanitarian assistance in areas such as health, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, shelter, livelihoods, cash assistance, and non-food aid, among others.
The new contribution will be used for “strengthening community protection mechanisms and intensifying advocacy efforts for inclusive policies. Besides, information and guidance provided on the asylum process, regularization, and documentation needed to facilitate registration,” said UNHCR.
She added that part of this contribution also would be dedicated to supporting the work carried out by the Regional Interagency Coordination Platform, co-led by UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the activities detailed in the 2020 Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP).