Donors pledge for Venezuelan refugees and migrants

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CARACAS, Venezuela – The UN refugee and migration agencies have welcomed $2.79 billion pledged by donors at a solidarity conference aimed at supporting Venezuelans who fled the protracted crisis in their country for host communities across the region.

Some $653 million of those funds will be provided as grants.

Governments, aid agencies and other stakeholders attending the International Donors Conference in solidarity with Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean sought to mobilize support for those affected by one of the largest displacement crises in the world, now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The day-long event, held on Tuesday, was organized virtually by the European Union and Spain, with support from Canada, Norway, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Attendees confirmed funding for refugees, migrants and host communities in countries across the region where Venezuelans have found safety, health care and jobs.

“These contributions will make a real difference to the lives of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, who have been extremely hard-hit by the pandemic,” said UNHCR-IOM Joint Special Representative, Eduardo Stein.

“Countries in the region have responded to this unprecedented displacement with remarkable solidarity and hospitality, while facing significant challenges to their own economies and the social fabric of their societies,” he added.

To date, more than five million refugees and migrants from Venezuela have sought safety and protection across the world – with 80 percent of them sheltering in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The health and economic consequences of COVID-19 have wreaked havoc on their lives and that of their hosts. Venezuelan refugees and migrants have lost the daily incomes and livelihoods needed to cover shelter, food and health care.  Many are at risk of being exposed to gender-based violence, stigmatization, exploitation, and abuse.

“The commitments made today to support humanitarian efforts offer a ray of hope to many families who have lost everything they had,” Stein said.

Tuesday’s pledging conference follows the commitment made during a solidarity conference in Brussels in October to mobilize humanitarian funding for refugees and migrants from Venezuela and their host communities, as well as financial support for their socio-economic integration in receiving countries.

Earlier this month, humanitarian organizations involved in the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform – across 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean – revised its refugee and migrant response plan established in 2019 to help regional governments address the needs of Venezuelan refugees and migrants.

The plan requires $1.41 billion in funding, one-third of which to be used for COVID-19 activities. Only ten percent – $142 million – of its requirements had been met before the conference.

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