Venezuela Migrants Number Surpasses That Of Syrian Refugees
The number of people who have fled violence and poverty in Venezuela since the beginning of the 2014 crisis has tipped past 5.6 million. The harrowing figure now exceeds the number of refugees who have fled Syria throughout the decade-long war and the exodus shows no sign of stopping, warns international aid organisation, World Vision.
World Vision is particularly concerned for the safety and well-being of nearly 2 million migrant and refugee children caught up in the Venezuela crisis.
“This forgotten crisis has now reached a tipping point we have feared for some time,” says Joao Diniz, World Vision’s regional leader for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Despite lockdowns, border closures, the COVID-19 pandemic and the prospect of becoming unemployed or homeless, thousands of people continue to leave Venezuela every month.”
To date, nearly one in five people have left Venezuela since the start of the economic crisis. Throughout the region, border closures due to the pandemic are forcing desperate people to use illegal crossings, putting their lives at risk.
Recent World Vision surveys indicate that one in three Venezuelan children across seven countries goes to bed hungry, while household surveys reveal:
- An average of 62% of households in four states are living with moderate to severe hunger
- 20% report that child labour has increased since the start of the pandemic
- 28% report their children are begging
- Nearly half report than child marriages have increased since March
“I’ve met families with young children who have been sleeping on the streets for months and it’s a struggle to find their next meal. Some have fallen desperately ill and have even encountered violence as they were robbed along their journey to the border,” said Fabiano Franz, director of World Vision’s seven-country response to the Venezuela migration crisis.
“We’ve heard countless stories of children and young people being separated from their parents. This puts already vulnerable children in a dangerous, unpredictable situation, where they are forced to make difficult decisions to survive.”
World Vision has been responding to the migrant crisis in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, and inside Venezuela. Our work includes providing assistance with cash, food, education, health referrals, child protection, access to clean water and vocational and business training.