Karen was forced to leave everything behind and start over far from home.
With the collapse of the healthcare system in Venezuela, Karen was unable to get the care her son needed for a debilitating medical condition, forcing her to make the difficult decision to flee her home and seek shelter in Colombia.
Photo: ©UNHCR/Vincent Tremeau
Families like Karen’s have suffered years of hardship. Now they are far from home, struggling to survive.
Please help provide the aid they urgently need.
to protect those who’ve fled with nothing
to keep hungry families alive and well
What’s happening in Venezuela?
Venezuela is in the middle of a political, economic and humanitarian crisis. More than 5 million people have left the country amidst violence and crippling food shortages—making it the biggest exodus in South America’s recent history.
The situation evolving in Venezuela, a country that has traditionally been a generous host to thousands of refugees, has led to large outflows of its citizens and other residents into the region and beyond.
Over 4 million Venezuelans now living abroad, the vast majority in countries within Latin America and the Caribbean. However, the majority remain without any documentation or permission to stay regularly in nearby countries, and therefore lack guaranteed access to basic rights. This makes them particularly vulnerable to labour and sexual exploitation, trafficking, violence, discrimination and xenophobia.
Why are food and medicine scarce in Venezuela?
Political turmoil has caused the Venezuelan economy to implode in recent years—leading to chronic shortages of basic supplies. In parts of this oil-rich country, fuel has become scarce and drivers queue for days at petrol stations. Meanwhile across the country, blackouts are frequent, medicine is in short supply and millions of families go hungry. Hyperinflation puts what little basic supplies are available out of reach of most ordinary families.
Where are Venezuelan families fleeing to?
Families are travelling across Latin America and the Caribbean—especially to Colombia, but also to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and beyond. These host countries have been welcoming, but they are increasingly overstretched and some are reaching a saturation point.
What dangers do they face en route?
Fleeing families often take irregular routes to find safety, crossing fast-flowing rivers or braving treacherous footpaths to reach their destinations. Many fall prey to smugglers, traffickers and armed groups on the way, and unaccompanied or separated children are particularly vulnerable.
Where can I access the latest data and reports?
Venezuela Operation—UNHCR’s relief work to protect Venezuelans.
Venezuela Situation Portal—for latest updates on the crisis overall, including UNHCR situation reports, funding requirements and UNHCR’s support for neighbouring countries taking in Venezuelan refugees.
Where is UNHCR working?
UNHCR is on the ground across the region and has a strong presence around key border crossing points—protecting fleeing families from danger and providing the essentials they need to survive. As well as providing life-saving aid and safe shelter, UNHCR teams also provide legal support, such as informing families of their right to seek asylum.
Throughout the region, UNHCR has stepped up its response and is working closely with host governments and partners, particularly IOM, to support a coordinated and comprehensive approach to the needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Concretely, we are collecting data to better understand the specific needs of Venezuelans; supporting States to improve reception conditions, coordinate the provision of information and assistance to meet Venezuelans’ immediate basic needs including shelter; and combating discrimination and xenophobia through awareness campaigns.
Notably, we have strengthened our presence along key borders to limit to the extent possible risks, in particular with regard to access to territory, trafficking, exploitation, and to identify people who may require dedicated protection and services, such as unaccompanied and separated children and pregnant women. UNHCR also provides support and legal orientation on arrival and distributes drinking water, and hygiene kits for women and children at border areas. Our teams also provide cash assistance to the most vulnerable Venezuelans.
Refugee Housing Units are an innovative housing solution now being deployed to Venezuelan refugees in Brazil and in refugee settlements around the world. Refugee Housing Units are dignified, durable and sustainable to protect against heavy rain, wind and sun. Refugee families away from their homes require secure shelters that give them the peace of mind they need knowing they are safe.
Did you know that there has been an 8,000 per cent increase in the number of Venezuelans seeking refugee status worldwide since 2014?
Valentina has known hunger and hardship for much of her young life.
When her family left Venezuela in search of a better life, they headed to Colombia—never knowing what they might find there.
Thankfully, they reached a communal kitchen supported by UNHCR, where 5,000 free meals are served each day to help families like Valentina’s stay alive and well.
Photo: ©UNHCR/Siegfried Modola
Please help Venezuelan refugee families in need.
Please help Venezuelan refugee families in need.