The Venezuelan migrant crisis: A growing emergency for the region

17-12-2018

Although the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has traditionally been a country of destination for migrants, around 2010 its migratory profile started to change to that of a country of origin. In fact, in the past few years migration away from Venezuela has reached massive levels, creating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the region. According to the United Nations' International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of Venezuelans abroad has risen from under 700 000 in 2015 to 3 million in November 2018. About 70 % of this human wave has been directed to South American countries such as Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, but also to North and Central America and the Caribbean, and even Europe. The main factors contributing to this exodus are Venezuela's deteriorating political situation, a severe economic crisis and increasing violence. This mass migration could have a destabilising effect on the main recipient and transit countries. Besides individual responses developed by host countries to provide migrants with emergency assistance and protection and to facilitate their integration, Latin American countries are trying to give a coordinated regional response to the crisis. Furthermore, migration authorities, ombudsmen and NGOs have also promoted regional initiatives to defend the rights of Venezuelan migrants abroad and their access to basic services. The UN and regional organisations are also working to help deal with the crisis, and the EU is contributing €35.1 million in emergency aid and medium-term development assistance for the Venezuelan people and the affected neighbouring countries. The European Parliament sent an ad hoc mission to Brazil and Colombia in June 2018 to assess the situation, and has adopted resolutions on the subject.

Although the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has traditionally been a country of destination for migrants, around 2010 its migratory profile started to change to that of a country of origin. In fact, in the past few years migration away from Venezuela has reached massive levels, creating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the region. According to the United Nations' International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of Venezuelans abroad has risen from under 700 000 in 2015 to 3 million in November 2018. About 70 % of this human wave has been directed to South American countries such as Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, but also to North and Central America and the Caribbean, and even Europe. The main factors contributing to this exodus are Venezuela's deteriorating political situation, a severe economic crisis and increasing violence. This mass migration could have a destabilising effect on the main recipient and transit countries. Besides individual responses developed by host countries to provide migrants with emergency assistance and protection and to facilitate their integration, Latin American countries are trying to give a coordinated regional response to the crisis. Furthermore, migration authorities, ombudsmen and NGOs have also promoted regional initiatives to defend the rights of Venezuelan migrants abroad and their access to basic services. The UN and regional organisations are also working to help deal with the crisis, and the EU is contributing €35.1 million in emergency aid and medium-term development assistance for the Venezuelan people and the affected neighbouring countries. The European Parliament sent an ad hoc mission to Brazil and Colombia in June 2018 to assess the situation, and has adopted resolutions on the subject.