2022 Situation report
2022 Year-end population figures
Asylum-seekers: 1.1 million
Others in need of international protection: 5.2 million
Population figures for Venezuelans under UNHCR’s mandate in Argentina, Aruba, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, Uruguay and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
2022 Situation overview
The outflow of refugees and migrants from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is one of the largest displacement crises in the world. In response, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and other countries have granted asylum and implemented protection-oriented arrangements that facilitate access to a legal stay, documentation and basic socioeconomic rights.
By the end of 2022, 2.5 million Venezuelans completed the pre-registration for a temporary protection status in Colombia, with 1.6 million in possession of a temporary protection permit. In Brazil, 53,300 Venezuelans had been recognized as refugees by the end of 2022 and 345,300 had obtained residency permits. In Peru, 79,600 Venezuelan asylum-seekers were granted a humanitarian residency permit and almost 225,000 Venezuelans in an irregular migratory situation obtained a temporary residency permit. In Ecuador, 97,500 Venezuelans were registered for regular stay, including 33,250 who obtained temporary residency visas and 13,500 who received an Ecuadorian identification document. In the Dominican Republic, of the 43,000 Venezuelans who applied for the Normalization Plan, over 20,000 obtained non-resident visas enabling them to access work or student permits.
Despite significant efforts from hosting countries, multiple factors affected people’s ability to obtain a regular status and achieve socioeconomic inclusion. Those factors included the lack of country-of-origin documentation, livelihood opportunities, exploitation and abuse, and episodes of discrimination and xenophobia, which in turn triggered northbound movements, mainly to the United States of America (USA). However, there was a perception during the last quarter of 2022 of an improving economic outlook for Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which also increased the number of spontaneous returns.
In response to the heightened number of Venezuelans and other nationalities engaged in onward movements across the region and arriving at the south-west US border, with a record number of about 150,000 Venezuelans crossing the Darién in irregular movements in 2022, the US Government announced on 12 October 2022 a “New Migration Enforcement Process for Venezuelans.” The announcement contemplated the return to Mexico of Venezuelans who crossed the border irregularly and the establishment of a new humanitarian parole programme that allowed up to 24,000 eligible Venezuelans to enter the USA. A month into its implementation, the number of Venezuelans attempting to reach the USA through the Darién jungle was just 668 in November, down from 40,593 in October 2022. Under the new parole programme, as of 27 December 2022, the US Department of Homeland Security had already authorized travel for more than 15,700 Venezuelan beneficiaries. Of those, more than 10,600 arrived and were paroled into the country.
In the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, despite the persistence of conditions that were generally not conducive to returns, there was a steady increase in the number of people coming back from host countries. However, returnees often faced harsh conditions once they were back home, ranging from difficulties in accessing jobs, social services and housing to a certain degree of hostility on the part of their neighbours who had remained. UNHCR focused on helping to provide solutions for returnees and took a lead role in the creation of an inter-agency Technical Working Group on Human Mobility and Reintegration and in the launch of reintegration pilot projects in the context of a wider operational effort that aimed to provide vulnerable Venezuelans with an array of reasons and options to stay in their country.
In host countries, through its co-leading role in the R4V Platform, UNHCR promoted and implemented a predictable and coordinated response to the humanitarian needs and challenges faced by Venezuelan refugees and migrants, including those engaged in mixed and onward movements across the region, reaching some 2.4 million refugees and migrants and affected host community members with assistance throughout 2022. In October 2022, the R4V Platform published the Refugee and Migrant Needs Analysis (RMNA), which highlighted the disproportionate impact suffered by Venezuelans in economies hard hit by the pandemic and the consequences of the war in Ukraine. The analysis served as a basis for developing an updated response strategy reflected in the first multi-year Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP 2023-2024).
In this framework, UNHCR improved reception conditions, promoted access to asylum, mitigated protection risks, provided access to basic services, and advocated for the legal stay and inclusion of Venezuelan refugees and migrants. In 2022, UNHCR supported 864,600 individuals with protection-related assistance and specialized services. In terms of access to basic services, UNHCR delivered cash assistance to over 66,300 Venezuelans so they could become contributing members of the local economy, purchasing their goods in neighbourhood markets and paying rent to local landlords. In addition, UNHCR assisted with shelter and other solutions for around 56,000 refugees and migrants and facilitated access to emergency and primary health care for 92,000 displaced women and men, including children.
At the inter-governmental level, the Quito Process remained the central forum for coordination among host countries. Under the pro tempore presidency of Brazil and Chile, 13 Governments participated in the Process, along with 34 other actors, including UN organizations, cooperating States and international financial institutions which support the Group of Friends of the Quito Process.
Global Appeal 2023
2023 population planning figures*
Refugees and asylum-seekers: 770,000
Refugee and IDP returnees: 50,000
Others of concern to UNHCR: 3.2 million
Other people in need of international protection: 6.23 million
*Figures aligned to RMRP 2023-2024 and do not include Venezuelan refugees and migrants outside Latin America and the Caribbean.
2023 situation overview
Despite expanded access to asylum, other legal stay arrangements and local integration efforts, limited access to documentation, basic services, livelihoods opportunities, and rising xenophobia, population outflows from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela continue across Latin America and the Caribbean, with increased onward movements towards Central America, Mexico and the United States of America (through the Darien Gap) which are anticipated to prevail throughout 2023.
In 2023, UNHCR will prioritize critical activities including assistance, identification, and referral to services for those at heightened risk. UNHCR and partners will continue to support national efforts to expand access to asylum, regular stay arrangements and documentation for Venezuelans. Enhanced advocacy and sustained support will be provided to host countries to further refugees and migrants’ integration and inclusion in social protection programmes.
The upcoming Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP 2023-24), developed through the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V), co-led by UNHCR and IOM, estimates that there will be 5 million in-destination Venezuelans in need of humanitarian, protection and socioeconomic inclusion assistance by end-2023. UNHCR and IOM will continue to coordinate the efforts of more than 200 organizations involved in the R4V response to support the implementation of the RMRP across 17 countries. UNHCR and IOM will also bolster the governmental coordination of the Quito Process (a regional initiative of several Latin American countries that seeks to harmonize domestic policies in host countries) with the cooperation of the international community.
UNHCR’s vision in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is that vulnerable population groups – including affected Venezuelans as well as persons in need of international protection – receive protection and enjoy enhanced prospects for solutions.
In the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the main populations of concern to UNHCR include vulnerable Venezuelans under the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), including boys, girls, adolescents, youth, women and indigenous peoples; refugees and asylum-seekers; and returnees. Special attention is afforded to populations at risk of, or found in, situations of human mobility. In the context of the humanitarian coordination architecture established in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, UNHCR leads the Protection Cluster and the Shelter, Energy and Non-Food Items (NFI) Cluster.
Global Report 2021
2021 Year-end population figures
6 million* refugees and migrants from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela globally, of whom (83%) 4.99 million hosted in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean
Asylum seekers: 971,000
2.56 million residency or regular stay permits issued across the region
*This figure includes Venezuelan migrants, refugees and asylum seekers reported through the Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela.
2021 Situation overview
With the extension of COVID-19 border closures, refugees and migrants resorted to irregular crossings, often using smuggling networks and exposing themselves to heightened protection risks. With few specific protocols to allow access to territory during the pandemic, the available protection space was greatly reduced.
More than 30% of Venezuelans in the region did not have access to regular stay arrangements, resulting in limited access to formal labour markets and social safety nets. This left many exposed to exploitation and abuse, eviction and homelessness, and in some cases detention or deportation.
Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Peru initiated different types of regularization processes to provide Venezuelans with documentation and improve their access to rights. In 2021, more than 500,000 Venezuelan applicants were approved for some form of regular stay, and more than 3 million Venezuelans abroad could potentially benefit from regularization exercises. Colombia has registered more than 1.8 million applicants for Temporary Protection Status. 1.2 million of them completed biometric registration, and over 300,000 were approved and received their documentation.
Chile incorporated a family reunification programme into its new immigration regulations and authorized the issuance of safe conduct for Venezuelans without documentation who qualified for family reunification or other exceptional humanitarian situations. Through the Government of Colombia’s “Children first” policy (“Primero la niñez”), over 70,000 children born to Venezuelan parents in Colombia received Colombian nationality, avoiding statelessness. Argentina passed a regulation facilitating access to temporary residence for Venezuelan children by waiving the requirement for presentation of a valid identity document.
In Brazil and Mexico, over 68,000 people were relocated from regions where they had little prospect of economic integration to parts of the country where they were matched to available jobs. In Colombia, UNHCR promoted increased access to the labour market and financial services for Venezuelans who will receive Temporary Protection Status.
In the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, UNHCR continued to support the implementation of the Humanitarian Response Plan and led the protection cluster, as well as the cluster responsible for shelter, energy and core relief items. Over the course of 2021, 1.9 million people, including host community members, people on the move or at risk of moving, and spontaneous returnees, were directly or indirectly assisted in 71 prioritized communities, especially in border areas, including access to community centres and temporary shelters, health services, and food assistance for the most vulnerable. UNHCR also provided technical assistance on shelter management and coordination and stepped-up assistance in reception areas, temporary shelters and public health facilities, while also supporting public health measures.
Through its co-leading role in the R4V platform, UNHCR promoted a predictable and coordinated response to the challenges of increasing mixed and onward movements across the region. In the context of the Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan, collective inter-agency efforts provided assistance and support to 3.3 million people in 17 countries. The Quito Process remained the central forum for intergovernmental coordination among host countries. Under the pro tempore presidency of Peru, 13 governments participated in the Process, along with 34 other actors, including UN organizations, cooperating States and international financial institutions which support the Group of Friends of the Quito Process.