USAID/BHA is responding to Hurricane Iota, which passed over Colombia’s Providencia, San Andres, and Santa Catalina islands on November 16 as a Category 5 hurricane. Photo credit: LIANA FLOREZ / AFP

Key Developments

USAID is responding to a complex emergency as Venezuelans flee an economic and political crisis and arrive in neighboring countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

Approximately 1.8 million Venezuelans have fled to Colombia, and many are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, heightened due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 1, President of Colombia Iván Duque signed a decree granting Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans who entered Colombia prior to January 31, as well as to future Venezuelans who enter the country legally; the new policy provides a pathway to legal residence and grants access to education, formal employment, public health services, and national banking institutions. The U.S. Government is providing emergency food, health care including COVID-19 response, multipurpose cash assistance, nutrition, protection, and water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions for vulnerable Venezuelans, Colombian returnees, and host community members in Colombia.


Since 2014, deteriorating economic and political conditions in Venezuela—marked by devastating hyperinflation, shortages of basic medicines, and limited food availability—have contributed to increasing humanitarian needs. The 2021 UN Humanitarian Response Plan identified food security, health, nutrition, and protection as urgent needs inside Venezuela. Severe food and medicine shortages have contributed to Venezuelans fleeing to other countries in the region, primarily to Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, and also to Argentina, Mexico, Panama, and Caribbean and Central American countries. The UN estimates that more than 5.6 million Venezuelans have left their country since 2014.

The population influx is straining the capacity of public services in some host communities, particularly in border areas of Brazil and Colombia. Recent assessments indicate food, health care services, nutrition assistance, protection, and WASH support are among the most urgent humanitarian needs of Venezuelans and host communities in border regions.

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