Since 2013, the Venezuelan crisis has displaced millions of people inside and outside the country. According to the July 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), more than five million Venezuelans have fled to neighboring countries. Colombia has received 1,8 million of them. This population influx is generating additional pressure on Colombian society, already weakened by a long-standing internal crisis.
The influx of refugees is adding pressure on basic services, such as health care, and access to employment. In addition, the increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, exceeding one million people infected by 2020, continues to create major pressure on the country’s health services.
Description of the mission
Since January 2019, Première Urgence Internationale has conducted several needs assessments in the departments of Norte de Santander, Santander, Boyaca and Arauca. The NGO is now mobilizing its teams to respond to the needs of Venezuelan refugees during their exodus and following their settlement in Colombia.
On the Cúcuta-Bucaramanga road, in the departments of Santander and Arauca, the humanitarian response has until now been carried out by local associations and NGOs through the provision of shelters and basic services. Their operation is now threatened by a severe lack of resources, which Première Urgence Internationale wishes to address.
Once on Colombian soil, many displaced people settle in the poorest informal settlements around the cities: the “asentamientos”. Sanitary conditions are particularly worrying and relations with the host community are sometimes problematic. Première Urgence Internationale is mobilized to provide a response to this regional crisis.
Premiere Urgence Internationale in action
In Colombia, Première Urgence Internationale works alone in some areas and in consortium with Solidarités International on other activities, to provide a comprehensive response to needs. The programs carried out aim to improve access for displaced Venezuelans to quality medical care and psychosocial support, to ensure the distribution of meals and decent shelter, and to meet priority needs in terms of water, hygiene and sanitation.
In particular, mobile medical teams are mobilized in the departments of Arauca and Santander to respond to health needs. Primary health care and psychosocial support are provided, as well as awareness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Colombia: Emergency Response of our Teams in Arauca Department
At the end of March, clashes in Venezuela between the Venezuelan army and armed groups caused thousands of people to be displaced from the Venezuelan border to the Colombian border. Our teams were on the ground to bring support to the population.
Colombia: “As purchasing manager, I deliver meals to migrants on the road”
Tania Rodríguez, a Colombian repatriate, is head of the service point in Curití, in Santander, the main road between Bucaramanga and Bogotá and practically the only support point for “caminantes” arriving from Venezuela.
Venezuelan refugees in Colombia: living in the instability again
Première Urgence Internationale and Solidarités International are helping to mitigate the urgent risks faced by Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Colombia. The current health crisis is particularly affecting the food security of this population. In collaboration with the municipality of Bucaramanga, the two NGOs in consortium and their local partner Fundacion Entre Dos Tierras, are joining forces to meet the food needs of these vulnerable populations.