Far from the Headlines: One in four Venezuelans have left the country

What is the crisis about?

Due to a severe economic and political crisis, 7.7 million Venezuelans have left everything behind to seek safety from growing violence, insecurity, a lack of food and medicine, and poverty in their homeland.  Another 7 million need humanitarian aid.

Background

The opposition in Venezuela contested the legality of the reelection of current President Nicolás Mauro in 2018. In January 2019, the National Assembly backed its speaker, Juan Guaidó, when he declared himself interim president on the grounds that the election was not valid. The USA has gradually tightened economic sanctions against Venezuela.

Venezuelans on the border of Ecuador and Colombia. Photo:UNICEF/Santiago Arcos
Venezuelans on the border of Ecuador and Colombia. Photo:UNICEF/Santiago Arcos

Impact on People and the Environment

Amid spiralling hyperinflation, shortages of basic goods, political turmoil, violence and persecution, more than one in four Venezuelans have left the country. Venezuela, with a population of over 29 million, covers an area of 882,050 km2 in northern South America. It borders Colombia, Brazil, Guyana and the Caribbean Sea.

The majority of the 7.7 million who have left– more than 6.5 million people – have been hosted in Latin American and Caribbean countries, where healthcare and education are suffering additional strain. There are over one million asylum-seekers from Venezuela worldwide. Over 230,000 have been recognised as refugees.

According to the UN Office for Humanitarian Coordination (OCHA), 7 million people were in need in Venezuela. The total requirements for financing the humanitarian assistance is estimated at $650 million in 2024.

Children walking in front of a mural in Caracas. Photo: UNICEF/Velasquez
Children walking in front of a mural in Caracas. Photo: UNICEF/Velasquez

UN Response to the Crisis

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for „an inclusive and credible political dialogue to address the protracted crisis in the country, with full respect for the rule of law and human rights”.

An Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2019. It published a report in September 2023, where it accused Venezuelan authorities of repression of dissent through crimes against humanity.“

A UN-staff member in the field. Photo: UNOCHA
Photo: UNOCHA

UN Agencies Involved and Their Role

In September 2023, UN relief chief Martin Griffiths released $8 from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to finance help for Venezuelans.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has stepped up its presence in border areas across the region, providing life-saving assistance (including drinking water and hygiene kits for women and children) and responding to the basic needs of refugees and migrants.

The World Food Programme (WFP) assisted  545,000 people in Venezuela in 2022. WFP’s school meals programme started in Venezuela in 2021 and includes take-home food baskets.

 UNICEF  provides life-saving humanitarian assistance to 900,000 children across Venezuela. It has intensified its presence to meet the rising demands of health care, nutrition, education, protection and access to water, hygiene, and sanitation.

SDGs Connected to the Crisis

The crisis in Venezuela touches upon most of the SDGs, not least #1 No Poverty, #2 Zero Hunger and #16 Peace, Justice and Institutions.

How Can You Get Involved? 

You can donate to many UN agencies, including:

 

More information:

 

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