The current political and economic situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (hereafter Venezuela) has led to an unprecedented flow of migrants and refugees across Latin America and Caribbean. As of March 2023, more than 7,23 million Venezuelans are outside their country of origin, the second largest displacement in the world. Neighbouring countries are responding to the humanitarian and human mobility challenges s presented by this situation with solidarity and hospitality,and have largely kept their doors open to Venezuelan migrants and refugees.
The majority of migrants and refugees from Venezuela reside in the region (6,09 million as of March 2023). Among the largest host countries are Colombia (2,5 million), Peru (1,5 million), Ecuador, Chile and Brazil.
Despite progress being made in the regularisation of migration status and the granting of refugee status to Venezuelans, a large number of migrants and refugees do not have migration documents, thus limiting their access to social protection in some countries.
Venezuelan migrants and refugees are using a variety of migration routes utilizing land, sea and air avenues. As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruption caused to regular migration channels, many Venezuelans have resorted to using irregular routes to reach their destinations. Informal border crossings are often characterised by unsafe conditions and serious protection risks where people are increasingly exposed to human trafficking, exploitation, and violence.
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer of complexity to the displacement situation in the region. Widespread loss of jobs and sources of income has meant an increased inability to secure basic needs such as food, shelter and other essential services. Xenophobia and discrimination towards Venezuelans has also increased largely motivated by a misperception of increased competition for jobs, criminalisation and fear of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.