Venezuela has been beset by a serious political crisis for several years. Several million people have left their country as a result, finding refuge primarily in neighbouring countries. Despite the support provided by the host countries, the economic and social situation of the majority of the refugees is extremely difficult, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit the region particularly hard, is exacerbating the position. The region’s economy has taken a huge blow as a result of the pandemic. Many migrants and refugees lost their jobs. In order to support the host countries, therefore, Canada hosted an international donor conference on 17 June. Speaking on behalf of the German Government, Minister of State Niels Annen emphasised:
The suffering of millions of refugees and migrants from Venezuela is one of the biggest human tragedies of our times. Over the past 16 months, the pandemic has further pushed many of them to the brink of hunger, malnutrition and disease. And as if the situation could not get any worse, their host countries are among the hardest hit by COVID-19 and its social and economic effects. And yet, these countries are showing remarkable solidarity.
In view of the difficult humanitarian situation, the German Government is supporting the countries in the region through development assistance and humanitarian assistance funding. At the conference, Germany pledged a further increase in support in 2021: it will make available 35.4 million euro for humanitarian assistance and 23.6 million euro in development funding. German support for the region will thus total 71.7 million euro this year.
A humanitarian refugee and migration crisis
More than 5.6 million Venezuelans have left their country, fleeing the economic and political crisis there. Most of them (80%) have found refuge in other countries of the region. In many countries, they have been granted access to social security systems, the healthcare system, school education and the job market. Colombia, for example, this spring issued a 10-year Temporary Protection Statute for Venezuelan refugees, thus enabling their integration into the country’s social security system, among other things. Colombia has taken in the most refugees and migrants (1.8 million).