On 17 June, at the International Donors' Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants the European Commission pledged €147 million, in addition to pledges by EU Member States, for immediate humanitarian assistance, medium and longer-term development assistance and conflict prevention interventions for Venezuelan refugees, migrants and host communities.
This comes in addition to the ongoing aid package of €319 million allocated by the EU to alleviate the crisis since 2018.
EU aid for Venezuelan refugees and migrants
Today's funding from the European Union will focus on:
- Humanitarian assistance of €82 million for immediate relief activities to vulnerable Venezuelans affected by the crisis, wherever they are. Assistance will be provided to Venezuelan migrants and refugees, as well as to host communities in host countries. This includes shelter, medical assistance (including COVID-19-related primary response), food and non-food items, access to education and protection. Particular attention will be given to vulnerable groups, such as unaccompanied minors.
- Development cooperation of €50 million focusing in particular on social and economic integration of Venezuelan refugees, migrants and host communities in countries most affected by the Venezuelan crisis. Our support will target access to health and employment opportunities, to foster the skills, knowledge, innovation and social integration of Venezuelan refugees, migrants and host communities. It will also continue to support Venezuelans that have remained in their country to defend democratic values, human rights, human dignity and build resilience through civil society and international organisations on the ground.
- Assistance through the Foreign Policy Instrument of €15 million, focusing on strengthening registration and integration policies and processes for Venezuelan migrants and refugees and addressing the needs of host communities. This support will focus on socio-economic integration in host communities, preventing and addressing xenophobia and discrimination. Particular focus will be given to the needs of vulnerable groups, such as unaccompanied children, single-headed households, women and girls at risk of gender-based violence and trafficking, the elderly, people with chronic illnesses and LGBTQI+ people.
Members of the College said
High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell said: “With more than 5.6 million affected people, the Venezuelan exodus is a serious ongoing crisis that has been largely unnoticed. The pandemic has worsened the plight of Venezuelan migrants and refugees, increasing the risks they face in their search for a safe haven. The need to vaccinate displaced Venezuelans and to provide support to the communities that have generously welcomed them makes it even more urgent to continue with this commitment. The European Union is ready to play its part.”
Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič said: “The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the already critical situation in the region. The EU's humanitarian support will continue to provide urgently-needed assistance to the most vulnerable Venezuelans who have been forced to leave their homes to flee from starvation, poverty and persecution. I commend the efforts of hosting countries as well as of our humanitarian partners, who are delivering essential aid, including basic healthcare and psychosocial support for those who left their country. Ultimately, however, a political solution is needed to overcome the ongoing humanitarian crisis.”
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “This crisis continues creating immediate needs and has exacerbated inequalities. We commend the Governments of neighbouring countries for their generosity, solidarity and genuine efforts to welcome Venezuelan refugees and migrants. This is why the EU and its Member States will also support social and economic integration in countries most affected by the Venezuelan crisis.”
The conference was hosted by the Canadian Government in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration.
Over 5.6 million Venezuelans have been forced to leave their homes since 2015, leading to what has become the largest displacement in the history of Latin America and the second largest in the world, after Syria. Most have fled to neighbouring countries in the region, often in extremely vulnerable conditions exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The EU has built the foundations of the multilateral international response to the crisis. In 2019, the EU organised the first Solidarity Conference on the Venezuelan refugee and migrant crisis in Brussels. In May 2020, the EU hosted with Spain and together with the UNHCR and IOM, the first International Donors' Conference. In total, €2.54 billion in pledges, both loans and grants, humanitarian aid and longer-term development were mobilised.
Earlier this week (14 June), a High-level Meeting with civil society in solidarity with Venezuelan refugees and migrants was held, hosted by the European Union, the Government of Canada, and the Coalition for the defence of the rights of refugees, migrants and displaced people in Latin America and the Caribbean. The purpose was to provide INGOs and CSOs with visibility and an active role in the 2021 Pledging Conference, while highlighting their added value in the delivery of assistance to those affected.
The EU strategy in the Venezuelan refugee and migrant crisis is strongly embedded in the nexus approach ensuring complementarity between humanitarian, peace and development actions.