Operation: Opération: Venezuela



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
1,480,252 people (57% women, 43% men) were direct and indirect beneficiaries of UNHCR’s assistance through community projects and activities under the inter-agency Humanitarian Response Plan
3,979 refugees and asylum-seekers aided with material, psycho-social and legal support, by UNHCR and partners
86 community groups and networks with 1,281 members trained and boosted
67 prioritized communities at high risk  assisted
2021 planning figures
25,000 community members will participate in peaceful coexistence, community-building and awareness activities
15,000 persons at heightened risk will receive material and other support
15,000 survivors of gender-based violence will receive psychosocial, legal, medical and/or material support 

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 1,180,920
2019 562,307
2018 67,434


[["Refugees",9310],["Refugee-like situation",58809],["Asylum-seekers",284],["Others of concern",1112517]]
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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[9.13229275,8.667207092,15.4806162,29.46500007,53.66677847,61.15868946],"expenditure":[3.9698540099999997,4.07432946,6.49902097,19.20657611,25.693892920000003,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[9.13229275,8.667207092,15.4806162,29.46500007,53.66677847,61.15868946],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[3.9698540099999997,4.07432946,6.49902097,19.20657611,25.693892920000003,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
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

With a pre-existent dire socio-economic situation, political crisis and a precarious security, the pandemic exacerbated population needs in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in 2020. After three consecutive years of hyperinflation, the Government required UNHCR support when the health emergency was declared in March 2020. The unforeseen spontaneous return from or through Colombia of 120,000 destitute refugees and migrants led to a rapidly scale up of the scope of UNHCR support beginning in April. With needs surging as the year progressed, coordination under the humanitarian architecture remained key to ensure needs were sufficiently addressed.

Despite international ostracism, the government pursued institutional normalization. Elections to the National Assembly on 6 December 2020, held without the participation of key opposition blocs, yielded a 90% majority for the coalition led by the ruling governmental party.

Population trends

  • The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela hosted 9,288 recognized refugees and 284 asylum-seekers. Also, some 58,000 Colombians are estimated to be in a refugee-like situation in the country.
  • As a result of the pandemic-related restrictions and socio-economic hardship in hosting countries, over 120,000 people spontaneously returned to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. When mobility restrictions were lifted in Latin America and the Caribbean, returns to Venezuela of refugees and migrants considerably decreased.
  • Through borders were still closed, outflows from Venezuelan resumed by the end of the year mostly via irregular routes.

Key achievements

  • Within the framework of the HRP and through its community-based projects, UNHCR assisted with direct and indirect support almost 1.5 million people of concern, including refugees and asylum seekers, and persons in refugee-like situation (mostly Colombians, returnees, persons at risk of displacement, population on the move and people in host communities).
  • The two HRP clusters led by UNHCR (Protection and Shelter/Energy/NFIs clusters) helped1.2 million vulnerable Venezuelans.
  • Through community promoters, committees and women’s and youth groups, UNHCR supported the response to heightened needs through 19 community projects on livelihoods, child protection, gender-based violence and health awareness campaigns.
  • With 851 information desks available in community centers or during local activities, UNHCR provided legal information and referrals to 16,037 people at heightened need.

Unmet needs

With UNHCR only funded 60%, this implied:
  • Additional funds would have allowed UNHCR to support refugees access residence permits, which remain unaffordable and with cumbersome processes.
  • With additional funds, more newborns of spontaneous returnees might have accessed birth registration, as centralized and hefty process potentially expose children to risk of statelessness.  
  • Considering numbers of people with heightened needs were exacerbated by the pandemic, additional support was required in response to the situation of survivors of violence, children at risk of exploitation and human trafficking. Strengthening of institutional capacities and the humanitarian response to trafficking required was limited by available funds.

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

Flexible funding allowed UNHCR to deliver a rapid response to the pandemic and the unexpected and significant return of Venezuelans who lost their livelihoods in neighbouring countries. Life-saving relief items, hygiene kits and personal protective equipment for first responders allowed health facilities to remain open in prioritised communities, border regions and in temporary quarantine centres receiving those returning.

Unrestricted funding supported the provision of safe water, hygiene kits and core relief items for returnees in government-run temporary reception and quarantine centres. UNHCR also provided relief items and hygiene kits to people with acute needs or heightened vulnerabilities identified by either humanitarian actors or community groups.

Working environment

The security and humanitarian situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has worsened, due to continued economic challenges, political instability, power outages and a subsequent deterioration in the provision of essential services, including water and sewage systems, and medical care. Rising political, economic and social tension has led more than 4 million Venezuelans to seek shelter in neighbouring countries and beyond, including more than 600,000 asylum-seekers.
Even if a solution to the political crisis is reached by 2020, humanitarian needs will persist until basic services are restored. UNHCR is taking a community-based approach to preventing displacement, mitigating protection risks and supporting the resilience of affected communities.
In March 2019, the “Venezuelan humanitarian needs overview” was developed. It estimated that 7 million Venezuelans need urgent humanitarian assistance, of which 2.7 million need protection. In August 2019, the “Venezuela humanitarian response plan” was published, which aims to coordinate and expand the humanitarian response already underway in the country.
As part of the Humanitarian Country Team, UNHCR leads two clusters (Protection, and Shelter, Non-Food Items and Energy) and participates in four others (Education, Food Security, Health and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene).
UNHCR is engaged with development actors as an active player in an inter-agency effort to identify action that can help the local economy recover. The aim is to strengthen local resilience to crises by working together.

Key priorities

The two main focuses of UNHCR Venezuela's strategy in 2020 will be international protection of refugees and asylum-seekers, and the prevention of statelessness; and displacement prevention, risk mitigation and resilience.
In order to strengthen services for people of concern with specific needs, UNHCR will:
  • Improve endowment and two types of infrastructure: safe spaces for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence; and collective shelters, including community areas.
  • Mass distributions of non-food items to people with specific needs. The kits will feature items appropriate to the local context and the specific needs of the community.
  • Ensure humanitarian action addresses the concerns of IDPs with specific needs. This will be front of mind during assessments and mapping, and when drawing up strategies and interventions. IDPs with specific needs will also have safe and equitable access to protection and assistance programmes.
 To reinforce and expand community mobilization, UNHCR will:
  • Ensure communication with communities always includes messages on the prevention of sexual abuse, exploitation,and fraud, as well as accountability to affected populations.
  • Map and strengthen community-based protection mechanisms of IDP communities (including through early warning systems, awareness raising and capacity building activities)
 To develop, strengthen and update the comprehensive solutions strategy, UNHCR will:
  • Advocate the inclusion of IDPs and host communities in joint UN and national planning and processes.
  • Advocate IDPs’ access to services.
  • Develop a protection and solutions strategy for IDPs and, where appropriate, returning refugees and stateless populations, together with authorities and development actors.
Latest contributions
  • 25-NOV-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 24-NOV-2021
  • Germany
  • 23-NOV-2021
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  • 22-NOV-2021
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  • 17-NOV-2021

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  • 15-NOV-2021
    United Arab Emirates

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  • 12-NOV-2021
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  • 09-NOV-2021
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