Operation: Opération: Venezuela



Latest update of camps and office locations 21  Nov  2016. By clicking on the icons on the map, additional information is displayed.

Key Figures

2016 end-year results
2,450 border guards and government officials were trained on refugee protection
1,580 asylum applicants were provided with information on the Government’s status determination procedures
370 PoC were provided with information on conditions of return
210 advocacy interventions were made on SGBV prevention and response
2017 planning figures
54,000 people will receive residence permits
1,450 applicants will be provided with information on government status determination procedures
770 people of concern will receive cash grants
450 people will be referred to secondary and tertiary medical care

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Decrease in
2016 172,957
2015 173,989
2014 174,027


[["Refugees",7861],["Refugee-like situation",164192],["Asylum-seekers",904]]
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2016 {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"budget":[9.05363323,9.97481119,10.93663268,10.750133689,9.13229275,8.66720709],"expenditure":[4.24132448,3.82917366,4.09154711,4.36000157,3.96985401,null]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[9.05363323,9.97481119,10.93663268,10.750133689,9.13229275,8.66720709],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2012,2013,2014,2015,2016,2017],"p1":[4.24132448,3.82917366,4.09154711,4.36000157,3.96985401,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017

Working environment

Venezuela was challenged by political, socio-economic and security concerns throughout 2016. The scarcity of food, medicines and basic goods affected the general well-being of the population. UNHCR’s partners and people of concern (PoC) reported difficulties in obtaining food and medicines, alongside low-wages, high inflation, limited access to formal jobs, and lack of documentation. 

Population trends

  • Over 2,700 asylum applications were processed following implementation of a work plan with the National Commission for Refugees (CONARE).
  • Previous backlog of more than 800 cases pending interview was reduced to some 300.
  • A total of 1,940 asylum applications were approved by CONARE, increasing the approval rate to 60 per cent from 23 per cent in 2015.

Achievements and impact

  • In 2016, UNHCR prioritized the reactivation of the agreement with CONARE as a means to address gaps in the asylum system and move forward its solutions strategy, by addressing structural weaknesses and promoting a more active role of CONARE in policies and practices affecting people of concern.
  • UNHCR strengthened its partnerships with key governmental actors, most notably the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Communication, and the Ministry of Interior, to conduct a national survey aimed at establishing the number, location, profiles, needs and potential for solutions for people living in a refugee-like situation or at risk of statelessness in Venezuela. The exercise was endorsed by authorities as a strategic tool to inform future policies and plans for the protection of people of concern to UNHCR, including stronger asylum procedures, regularization, naturalization, facilitation of return and effective access to social programs and livelihoods.
  • UNHCR in Venezuela and Colombia established a bi-national protocol to better coordinate actions in the context of the situation in Venezuela and the peace negotiations in Colombia. The plan includes joint monitoring activities along border areas to understand and respond to new dynamics in cross-border movements on PoC in both countries.
  • The Office completed the roll-out of proGres v4, UNHCR’s registration database.

Unmet needs

  • Livelihood activities could not be prioritized in 2016 due to more pressing needs such as the lack of valid documentation for PoC to access basic rights, public services and welfare programs. High inflation levels also discouraged investing in livelihood opportunities at a larger scale. Through inter-agency coordination, the Office ensured that people of concern were referred to relevant NGOs or public institutions offering microcredits, grants or vocational training opportunities. 
  • Due to limited resources and reduced staffing capacity, UNHCR could not conduct a more systematic verification on the ground of the reasons compelling people to leave Venezuela, the figures and trends of increasing cross-border movements, the flight conditions and protection risks faced by Venezuelans, and the communities facing risks of forced displacement. 

Operational context and population trends

Venezuela hosts an estimated 168,500 people in need of international protection, most of whom arrive from neighbouring Colombia. Despite outreach efforts by Venezuelan institutions to provide access to asylum, many Colombians in refugee-like situations have not accessed the asylum system. They may have obtained another legal status or remained undocumented. To date, 5,651 individuals have been formally recognized as refugees. In 2015, UNHCR’s partners reported fewer arrivals than in the past years. Despite the ongoing peace process in Colombia, most refugees in Venezuela prefer local integration.

Venezuela has traditionally provided asylum-seekers and refugees with access to many public services, including primary health care and education. The State offers several welfare programmes to its citizens (e.g. housing, subsidized food and services for the elderly) that also benefit refugees.

Venezuela has recently started applying stricter migratory controls. The presence of illegal armed groups involved in smuggling contraband are credited with posing a security threat; however, the country remains committed to ensuring safeguards and solutions for people of concern, in line with the Brazil Plan of Action. Innovative solution strategies are being discussed with the authorities; these will complement existing measures to further improve the quality of RSD procedures.

Key priorities in 2016

  • Solutions – UNHCR will advocate to find solutions for individuals who have not yet accessed the asylum system.
  • Documentation – UNHCR will ensure that asylum-seekers and recognized refugees have access to documentation to facilitate local integration efforts.
  • Naturalization – eligible refugees will have access to naturalization procedures.
  • Access to territory – UNHCR will strengthen partnerships and enhance its cooperation with migration authorities and military personnel.
  • Quality RSD – Although the number of asylum applications in Venezuela may decrease in 2016, UNHCR will organize capacity building initiatives to strengthen the quality of status determination procedures.
  • Advocacy, capacity building and coordination – The operation will focus on conducting high-level advocacy in all strategic policy areas, building capacity amongst all relevant actors and improving coordination between agencies involved in the protection network.
  • Border areas – The presence of field offices at the Venezuelan - Colombian border will enable UNHCR to support the Government´s efforts to strengthen borders of solidarity and safety.
  • Child protection – UNHCR will continue to advocate for the inclusion of refugee children in national policies, as well as in recreational and protection programmes.
  • Extremely vulnerable individuals – priority will be given to individuals with specific needs who will be assisted through tailored responses.