New York, May 28, 2020 – The humanitarian crisis of the displacement of more than five million Venezuelans outside their country of origin has created innumerable challenges both in transit countries and those receivers within the Latin American region. COVID-19 has come to further widen the gaps of social and economic exclusion of millions of migrants, Venezuelans and their families who continue to be re-victimized by the pandemic. Despite health restrictions and the closing of international borders, Venezuelans continue to seek essential protection and support to survive the crisis and find security, with the option of returning to Venezuela.
Faith-based Organizations (FBOs) that deploy their activities in environments where resources are limited and conditions are often appalling to have been instrumental in responding to the current situation. However, the limited availability of own resources and access to humanitarian resources have exceeded all capacities to respond to the challenges posed by both crises.
Unfortunately, populations of Venezuelan migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers are among the most vulnerable groups at risk of contracting COVID-19, as well as restricted access to essential goods and services such as housing, medical care, hygiene, antibacterial supplies, medications and food in times of quarantine.
In the short term, the effects of the pandemic require urgent availability of resources that allow special attention to be given to fighting hunger, the spread of the virus, shelter, access to decent housing and mental health. In the medium and long term, it is imperative that the most vulnerable populations are provided with efficient, lasting, and comprehensive responses that allow their integration in the host countries and the reintegration of returnees to Venezuela. Both scenarios must be addressed with an approach in which the human rights of migrants are prioritized.
Today, the OBFs celebrate the leadership and willingness of the European Union, the Government of Spain, as well as UNHCR and the IOM to conduct the donor conference and urge them to consider the perspective of the OBFs in the following key areas:
- It is urgent that donors promote the development of an inter-institutional investment plan that includes governments and faith-based and social organizations that ensures the availability of resources and their distribution to equitably implement RMRP 2020².
- It is imperative that investments and resource allocation be committed to two levels of intervention (1) Response to immediate urgency and (2) Post-COVID-19 effects.
- At the first level, it is critical that the expedited availability of resources be guaranteed to front-line and community-based organizations that respond to essential needs.
- The second post-COVID-19 level must fundamentally consider rapid, efficient and responsible responses in the following areas of action: (1) Financial Stability, job creation and labor inclusion; (2) Food security; (3) Access to health and decent housing.
- It is critical that donors guarantee the participation of FBOs to ensure that the most vulnerable and underserved populations access the resources available during the emergency and after COVID-19.
- There is an urgent need to support the operational and programmatic stability of grassroots organizations in order to give sustainability to the resources invested and the creation of new programs according to real needs.
- Donors need to designate a percentage of resources for advocacy actions so that community-based and OBFs proactively access decision-making processes and continue to promote and drive actions that are sustainable and consistent with universal human rights and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
- It will be essential that organizations are included in the post-donor conference follow-up process to contribute to the analysis and budget allocation, as well as the implementation of the plan, not only as observers with extreme limitations on participation in meetings but with concrete intervention spaces.
The faith-based organizations members of the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) and the Latin American and Caribbean Ecclesial Network of Migration, Displacement, Refuge and Trafficking in Persons (RED CLAMOR), reiterate our commitment in favor of reception, protection, promotion and integration of Venezuelan migrants. At the same time, we encourage the leaders of this donor conference to work together and actively welcome our suggestions.
1 Latin American and Caribbean Ecclesial Network on Migration, Displacement, Refuge and Trafficking in Persons. The Network of Episcopal Conferences on Human Mobility with a presence in 22 countries and 252 cities in Central, South America and the Caribbean.
2 Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela, 2020.