The Scalabrinian Model Provides Alternatives of Lasting Solutions to Access to Housing for Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees

New York, June 1, 2021 – On Friday, May 28, 2021, the event “Access to adequate shelters for refugees and migrants from Venezuela” aimed to raise the necessary support to protect this universal right while seeking lasting solutions to protect and socially integrate this vulnerable population.

The co-leaders of the R4V Platform organized this event in coordination with the IOM DG’s Office of the Special Envoy for the situation of Venezuela, UNHCR, and the Norwegian Council for Refugees. With the intervention of various experts, authorities, and multi-sectoral representatives that addressed the discussion of what is expected for the International Donor Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan refugees and migrants to be held in Canada next June. Exposing the attendees to the current realities related to the context, the relevance, barriers, and complex challenges of access to adequate housing, as well as testimonies of Venezuelans narrating their needs firsthand, stigmatization of which they are victims, and difficulties in accessing a proper accommodation attenuated at a context of the COVID-19. It also incorporated the response of the accommodation sector and the different strategic lines to address the stages of temporary collective accommodation, individual accommodation, and settlement required to highlight the opportunities to guarantee such access in the host countries.

At the event, Father Jairo Guidini, Executive Director of the SIMN network, intervened, highlighting the extensive experience of Scalabrinian organizations in the multiple migration corridors in the region. This included examples implemented by members of the Scalabrini Welcoming Centers and Casas del Migrante Network – which from May 2020 to May 2021 has given humanitarian assistance to approximately 188,000 migrants, including men and women, children, and the elderly.

In response to the role that humanitarian actors have to promote access to adequate housing, Father Guidini added that: “even though the pandemic affected job creation programs that rule out job opportunities at all levels, SIMN continues to strengthen, expanding and implementing the Scalabrinian model of ‘Employment, Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation for Migrants and Refugees’ – constituting a comprehensive, efficient and lasting response to face the post-COVID-19 effects and challenges in the medium and long term.”

Finally, the event emphasized that given the required durability of the policies implemented today, “the successfully proven and expanded model seeks to provide the migrant the specific tools to generate self-sufficiency that allows them to integrate to host communities as entities that contribute to development.” Finally, the event also spotted the opportunity for countries to identify better investment opportunities, projects, and programs nourished by the experiences of the different actors. Those that promote and attract donors are required, highlighting the capabilities that the Venezuelan refugee and migrant population has to provide in advance towards the whole exercise of their right to access dignified housing.

Erick Rozo, SIMN Professional Intern