Venezuela Regional Crisis - Fact Sheet #2 FY19

April 10, 2019

U.S. Vice President Pence announces nearly $61 million in USG humanitarian assistance in response to the Venezuela regional crisis

Recurring blackouts across Venezuela exacerbate humanitarian needs

Venezuela’s borders with Brazil and Colombia remain partially closed, prompting informal border crossings IFRC plans to scale up assistance inside Venezuela

Numbers At A Glance

3.4 million

Estimated Venezuelans Outside of Venezuela

5.3 million

Projected Number of Venezuelans Outside Venezuela by December 2019

3.6 million

Projected Number of Venezuelans Outside Venezuela and in Need of Assistance by December 2019

1.9 million

People in Colombia in Need of Assistance due to the Venezuela Regional Crisis

 

Humanitarian Funding

FOR THE VENEZUELA REGIONAL RESPONSE
IN FY 2017–2018

USAID/OFDA $38,018,730
USAID/FFP $56,043,171
State/PRM $19,242,414
TOTAL $213,304,315

 

On April 10, U.S. Vice President Michael R. Pence announced nearly $61 million in additional U.S. Government (USG) assistance in response to the Venezuela regional crisis. The assistance includes $13.3 million from USAID/OFDA, $16.2 million from USAID/FFP, and $31.4 million from State/PRM to address needs throughout the region. Vice President Pence made the announcement during a convening of the UN Security Council to discuss the worsening humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

A series of nationwide blackouts since early March have exacerbated humanitarian needs across Venezuela. The first blackout, which began on March 7, lasted approximately one week before power was restored to most areas of the country; however, at least one-half of Venezuelan states experienced a multi-day outage beginning March 25, and intermittent blackouts continued to affect many areas of the country as of the end of March, media report. The outages are significantly impacting health care services, decreasing access to safe drinking water, and further limiting food availability in Venezuela, prompting protests in cities across the country.

In early April, in coordination with the governments of Curaçao and the Netherlands, USAID pre-positioned four Interagency Emergency Health Kits (IEHKs) in Curaçao as part of the USG efforts to help vulnerable households affected by the crisis in Venezuela. Each IEHK contains medicines and medical supplies sufficient to meet the emergency health needs of approximately 10,000 people for 90 days. Since early February, the USG has pre-positioned nearly 546 metric tons of food, health, hygiene, and nutrition commodities in Colombia, Brazil, and Curaçao.

Several countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) recently relaxed entry requirements for Venezuelans in response to impediments—such as cost-prohibitive fees and bureaucratic delays lasting up to two years—that hindered access to legal documentation in Venezuela and at Venezuelan diplomatic missions. As of late March, the governments of Argentina, Colombia, Panama, and Paraguay had announced policies recognizing Venezuelan identity documents for two years beyond the expiration date; the revised regulations follow an August Venezuelan National Assembly decision to extend the validity of Venezuelan passports for a period of five years beyond the expiration date. Similarly, on April 6, the Government of Peru announced a new registry card that would grant legal status for one year to Venezuelans who were unable to apply for temporary residence permits in 2018. Although LAC countries have been largely receptive to Venezuelans and have supported mechanisms facilitating access to temporary or permanent residency, acceptance of asylum applications globally remains low; as of March, countries had recognized only 7,100 of the more than 414,000 asylum applications submitted by Venezuelans since 2014. As of February, LAC countries hosted approximately 2.7 million—roughly 80 percent—of the 3.4 million Venezuelans estimated to have departed the country since 2015, the UN reports.

Approximately 400,000 Venezuelans living in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru were facing Crisis—IPC 3—or higher levels of acute food insecurity, primarily resulting from declining economic conditions in Venezuela, and required urgent food assistance during 2018, according to a recent report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).4 Additionally, approximately 600,000 Venezuelans in the three countries were experiencing Stressed—IPC 2—levels of acute food insecurity, highlighting the need to help vulnerable populations secure sustainable livelihoods to mitigate deterioration of food security conditions. FAO projects that food security conditions among Venezuelans in the region will likely continue to decline as the economic crisis inside Venezuela persists.

Although active measles transmission continues in several LAC countries, the rate of new confirmed measles cases continued to decrease in early 2019, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Across the region, from January 1–March 4, health actors did not record any measles-related deaths, compared to 86 deaths recorded during 2018. Between January 1 and February 27, health actors in Venezuela reported 40 confirmed measles cases, or less than five cases per week, representing a 98 percent decrease from the approximately 300 cases per week recorded in late May 2018 during the height of Venezuela’s measles outbreak, PAHO reports. Similarly, in Brazil, health actors recorded approximately nine confirmed measles cases per week between mid-January and early March, compared to approximately 1,000 cases per week recorded at the peak of the outbreak in mid-July.

State/PRM continues to support Venezuelans transiting throughout LAC. During the reporting period, State/PRM partners provided multi-sector support to more than 2,500 people and more than 350 people transiting assistance points in border areas of Ecuador and Peru, respectively. State/PRM partners are also providing emergency food, hygiene kits, and household items, as well as shelter support, to vulnerable Venezuelans in Curaçao, where an estimated 26,000 Venezuelans were located as of February, the UN reports.

As of early April, security forces affiliated with former President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro maintained the official closure of the Venezuela–Brazil border, according to media and relief organizations. Security forces closed the border in late February in response to attempts to transport humanitarian assistance from Brazil into Venezuela. Despite the formal border closures, an increased number of Venezuelans were entering Brazil through informal border crossing points in March and early April; the continued influx of populations is straining shelter capacity and basic infrastructure in Roraima State’s Boa Vista and Pacaraima cities, which continues to prompt some individuals to sleep in public spaces, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

USAID partner the Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) continues to support vulnerable households in Boa Vista, including recent arrivals from Venezuela. Through USAID/FFP support, ADRA is providing electronic food vouchers to approximately 6,600 vulnerable Venezuelans, which allow households to purchase nutritious food in local markets. With nearly $5.7 million in FY 2019 funding, USAID/OFDA is expanding support for ADRA programs in Brazil; the additional funding will support hygiene promotion activities and the delivery of hygiene kits, as well as improve access to livelihood opportunities and support rental housing payments. In addition, USAID/OFDA is providing approximately $997,500 in FY 2019 support to Caritas in Brazil to improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation and hygiene facilities in Boa Vista.

In February, State/PRM partners IOM and UNHCR provided asylum application and legal documentation support to nearly 9,800 Venezuelans in Boa Vista and Pacaraima. IOM also provided complementary information on human trafficking and labor exploitation and distributed materials on basic migrant and refugee rights in coordination with Government of Brazil authorities. IOM and UNHCR have also worked with local government agencies and civil society organizations to strengthen referrals for protection services. During February, the UN agencies provided protection referrals or information on protection issues to more than 4,100 Venezuelans. Additionally, State/PRM supported child protection programs in Boa Vista and Pacaraima through the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). UNICEF provided psychosocial support to 4,300 children, reached more than 2,900 children through informal learning activities, and supported more than 620 children with early childhood development activities throughout the month. With an additional $3.6 million in State/PRM support, IOM, UNHCR, and UNICEF will continue these activities in Brazil in FY 2019.

On March 11, approximately 5,000 people crossed the border from Venezuela’s Táchira State to Colombia’s Norte de Santander Department as Maduro-affiliated security forces partially reopened border crossings to begin allowing children attending school and persons seeking specialized medical care to temporarily cross into Colombia, media report. Security forces closed the border in late February in opposition to attempts to move humanitarian assistance from Colombia into Venezuela. Prior to the border closure, an estimated 45,000 Venezuelans traveled to Norte de Santander daily, the majority of whom did so temporarily to attend school or earn income before returning to Venezuela, according to UNHCR. UNHCR warns that the onset of the April-to-May rainy season could render informal crossing points across the Táchira River impassable, raising safety concerns for Venezuelans who continue to travel to Colombia through these informal crossing points while the formal border remains closed to routine traffic.

In early March, State/PRM partner UNHCR, at the request of local Government of Colombia authorities, opened a transit center for Venezuelans traveling through La Guajira Department’s Maicao municipality. The transit center is designated as a temporary assistance site, and Venezuelans transiting the area are allowed to stay for a maximum of one month. USAID supports the center by providing food assistance at the site, where Venezuelans also receive basic medical care, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services while humanitarian organizations provide legal documentation assistance and help establish housing or provide relocation support. As of early April, approximately 200 households were sheltering at the center, according to media.

Two USAID non-governmental organization (NGO) partners have collectively reached nearly 6,500 Venezuelans and host community members impacted by the Venezuela regional crisis with cash assistance activities in La Guajira as of early April. Cash assistance activities also enable beneficiaries to support the economy through local purchases. To date, USAID humanitarian partners in La Guajira have provided more than $600,000 in cash assistance to vulnerable households, allowing Venezuelans and Colombians to directly purchase goods, such as food and personal hygiene items, through local markets. In total, USAID is supporting five NGO partners to provide cash assistance to vulnerable households throughout Colombia. Additionally, with $9.5 million in additional FY 2019 funding for Colombia, State/PRM is expanding support for IOM, UNHCR, and UNICEF programs.

Access to livelihood opportunities remains a key challenge for Venezuelans residing in Ecuador, relief agencies report. Many Venezuelans rely on jobs in the informal sector due to a lack of formal employment opportunities and challenges obtaining visas required to work legally in the country. Government of Ecuador fees to acquire visas—and associated costs to obtain required police records and purchase the health insurance that is legally mandated for employment with certain visas—are prohibitively high for many Venezuelans, according to relief organizations. In Manta city, Manabí Province, as well as Ecuador’s capital city of Quito, Venezuelans engaged in informal work report that insufficient and irregular income has reduced households’ ability to purchase nutritious foods and prompted many to rely on food assistance, according to the UN World Food Program (WFP). High proportions of household income devoted to shelter costs are further exacerbating needs among vulnerable Venezuelans; households working in the informal sector in major cities such as Manta and Quito report spending up to one-half of their monthly income—averaging less than $300 per month—on rent, limiting resources available to spend on food and other essential supplies and services, relief agencies report.

With support from USAID/FFP, WFP provided food assistance to more than 51,000 Venezuelans and other people in Ecuador affected by the Venezuela regional crisis through support to local shelters and the distribution of food vouchers in February. The UN agency provides monthly household food vouchers—with a value of $25 per household member—for a period of six months. The vouchers enable beneficiaries to purchase food at a local grocery chain, providing critical assistance while also supporting local businesses. With $10 million in FY 2019 support, USAID/FFP will continue to support WFP to deliver food vouchers to vulnerable populations. In addition, State/PRM continues to support IOM, UNHCR, and UNICEF in Ecuador with $4.7 million in additional FY 2019 funding.

The influx of Venezuelans to Guyana has burdened already limited resources and particularly strained the public health care system in the country, according to U.S. Department of State officials who traveled to the western border region of Guyana in late March. Additionally, Venezuelans continue to experience anti-migrant sentiment from some host communities and reportedly face heightened risk of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. A recent health and education assessment conducted by State/PRM partners revealed that approximately 17 percent of children were attending school; the assessment included nearly 1,100 Venezuelan migrants and refugees, nearly one-half of whom were children and infants. State/PRM partners are working with the Government of Guyana to address education needs among Venezuelans, including launching a safe-school initiative to increase service delivery in host communities. Guyana hosted 36,400 Venezuelans as of February, the UN reports. With $550,000 in FY 2019 funding, State/PRM will support UN partners in Guyana through activities providing multi-sector assistance to vulnerable Venezuelans, including activities to combat gender-based violence (GBV).

Lack of access to livelihoods remains a prevailing challenge for Venezuelans in Peru’s Arequipa and Ica departments, resulting in food, health, and shelter needs, according to relief organizations. A USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) field officer traveled to the departments in March, observing many Venezuelans working in the informal sector due to a lack of available jobs in the formal sectors. Additionally, Venezuelans arriving in recent months are exhibiting increased vulnerability as a result of deteriorating condition in Venezuela, relief agencies report. While formal jobs are limited in Arequipa and Ica, saturation of the labor market in Peru’s capital city of Lima—where the majority of Venezuelans living in Peru reside—is prompting new arrivals to move to other areas of the country.

With approximately $6.2 million and $6.3 million in FY 2019 USAID/FFP and USAID/OFDA funding, respectively, USAID is supporting critical food and nutrition programs, as well as cash, shelter, and protection assistance, for populations affected by the Venezuela regional crisis in Peru. The USAID-supported cash assistance, provided via pre-paid debit cards, enables households to allocate resources to meet their most urgent needs, such as food, housing, or hygiene items. The assistance also includes the distribution of kitchen supplies and WASH support for community kitchens serving vulnerable populations in Peru. State/PRM also continues to support IOM, UNHCR, and UNICEF in Peru with an additional $3.7 million in FY 2019 funding.

IOM reports that an increasing number of Venezuelans are opting to seek shelter in Trinidad and Tobago, with more than 50,000 Venezuelans estimated to reside in the country as of February. During a visit to Trinidad and Tobago in late March, State/PRM staff met with UNHCR to understand conditions among Venezuelan arrivals, as well as available assistance. A recent State/PRM partner assessment identified income-generating activities and legal assistance among the top needs of Venezuelans living in Trinidad and Tobago, exacerbated by current legislation that does not allow Venezuelans to work or access the public school system. State/PRM partners continue to respond to identified needs; through a local NGO, UNHCR is supporting a temporary learning facility that provides education services and humanitarian assistance to Venezuelan households. UNHCR is also working with Government of Trinidad and Tobago authorities and civil society organizations to strengthen the country’s asylum systems; Venezuelans account for approximately 76 percent of asylum seekers in Trinidad and Tobago. With $950,000 in additional FY 2019 funding, State/PRM is expanding support for existing partners in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as providing $600,000 to UN Women to enhance efforts to combat GBV.

A nationwide blackout beginning on March 7 and continuing through mid-March exacerbated humanitarian needs across Venezuela. The power outages hindered access to safe drinking water, limited availability of and access to food, and severely hampered health care services; during the blackout, hospitals reported a number of patient deaths resulting from non-functional infrastructure and medical equipment, such as dialysis machines and mechanical ventilators, according to media. Additionally, renewed widespread power outages in late March continued to affect at least one-half of Venezuelan states. As of early April, approximately 90 percent of hospitals surveyed by the National Hospital Survey reported inconsistent water services, including 35 percent that reported no access to water, and 40 percent of hospitals were relying on generators for electrical supply. Meanwhile, insufficient water supply has prompted many Venezuelans to collect water from urban runoff and other untreated water sources, media report. On March 31, the administration of former President Maduro suspended school activities, reduced business hours, and imposed 30-day, nationwide electrical rationing.

Hospital intensive care and surgical units in Venezuela are operating at approximately 40 percent and 30 percent capacity, respectively, according to the first bulletin of the 2019 National Hospital Survey. The report, compiled by a consortium of public and private institutions, summarizes data collected from 40 major hospitals in Venezuela between mid-November and early February. Hospitals lack approximately 50 percent of the medical supplies required to provide life-saving emergency care, and surgical units lack about 35 percent of the supplies required to conduct procedures, according to the report. During the survey period, the hospitals reported a total of 1,557 excess deaths as a result of supply shortages and an additional 79 deaths related to electricity outages.

On March 29, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) announced plans to scale up humanitarian activities—including the delivery of pharmaceuticals—across Venezuela with the agreement of the interim Government of Venezuela and former President Maduro. IFRC intends to continue supporting eight hospitals and 33 medical clinics operated by the Venezuelan Red Cross and increase targeted beneficiaries from 220,000 to 650,000 people by mid-April.

Deteriorating economic and political conditions—characterized by hyperinflation—in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela since 2014 have decreased households’ access to food, medicine, and health care; contributed to increasing humanitarian needs; and triggered an influx of Venezuelans into neighboring countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. More than 400,000 Venezuelans have applied for asylum globally since 2014.

The population influx has increased in the past years and is straining available services, especially in border areas of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Recent assessments indicate that food, health care, and WASH support are among the most urgent humanitarian needs of vulnerable populations, including Venezuelans, returnees, and host communities in border regions. The outflow of people from Venezuela is also contributing to increased public health concerns throughout the region, particularly with regard to the spread of infectious diseases.

In addition to supporting ongoing regional response activities, USAID and State/PRM staff based throughout the region and in Washington, D.C., are monitoring the humanitarian situation in close coordination with relevant host governments, donor governments, non-governmental organizations, and UN counterparts.

The most effective way people can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations. A list of humanitarian organizations that are accepting cash donations for disaster responses around the world can be found at www.interaction.org.

USAID encourages cash donations because they allow aid professionals to procure the exact items needed (often in the affected region); reduce the burden on scarce resources (such as transportation routes, staff time, and warehouse space); can be transferred very quickly and without transportation costs; support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; and ensure culturally, dietarily, and environmentally appropriate assistance.

More information can be found at:

  • USAID Center for International Disaster Information: www.cidi.org or +1.202.661.7710.
  • Information on relief activities of the humanitarian community can be found at www.reliefweb.int.

Last updated: April 17, 2019

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