The ongoing political, human rights and socio-economic developments in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (hereinafter Venezuela) have led to the outflow of more than three million Venezuelans into neighbouring countries and beyond. The exodus of Venezuelan nationals is already the largest in the modern history of Latin America and the Caribbean and involves both refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Based on conservative government figures, it is estimated that the number of Venezuelans in countries across Latin America rose from 700,000 in 2015 to over three million in November 2018. Nevertheless, the total number of Venezuelans in the region is likely to be higher, as most data sources do not account for Venezuelans without regular status.
For decades, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have pioneered and made fundamental contributions to the pursuit of protection and solution for refugees and migrants. This time again, the continent has demonstrated solidarity and generosity towards Venezuelans largely maintaining an open-border policy. To date, 958,965 Venezuelans are benefitting from a regular status in the region, while 365,565 globally have filed an asylum claim. However, with more than 5,000 daily arrivals,2 national capacities and host communities are overstretched, increasing the risk of xenophobia if their needs are not addressed. In addition, a significant number of Venezuelans remain in an irregular situation, due to various factors including lack of documentation, administrative obstacles, long waiting periods, or high application fees, among others. In some countries, their irregular situation leaves them without rights and access to services, and therefore vulnerable to all forms of exploitation and abuse, violence, and discrimination.
Experience shows that large-scale population movements persist and deteriorate in the absence of political solutions and sustained international solidarity. Given the magnitude of the outflow of Venezuelans, only a region-wide coordinated and comprehensive approach between governments – with the support of the international community – will enable the region to cope with the scale of the influx.
With this objective in mind, the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (hereinafter “RMRP” or “the Plan”) has been developed to support and complement national authorities across Latin America and the Caribbean. The RMRP seeks to respond to the population’s needs in a holistic and comprehensive manner, in line with governments’ priorities, complementing their response plans, within the framework of regionalized response and coordination mechanisms.
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