Ahead of the June 17th International Donors’ Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls for governments to break the cycle of underfunding and short-term, fragmented responses that have characterized the Venezuela crisis.

To date, deteriorating conditions have led over 5.6 million Venezuelans to leave their country, making it the world’s second-largest external displacement crisis, just after Syria. Inside Venezuela, humanitarian needs continue deepening, with a 26% contraction in the economy during 2020 and 7 million people in need.

Despite the scale of the crisis, and its impacts for the region’s development trajectory, the regional response plan was only 47% funded last year. In the first half of 2021, it has barely received 5.4% of the required funds, providing less than $17 per displaced Venezuelan and leaving a gap of over $1.3 billion.

Marianne Menjivar, IRC Country Director for the Venezuela Crisis Response, said:“Every day, the needs of Venezuelans are growing, however, this rising crisis continues to be severely underfunded, with only a fraction of the resources dedicated to others of similar scale. Although the U.S. has become the largest donor to the crisis, additional and greater funding from the international community is still required to provide long-term solutions. And, while Latin American countries like Colombia are hosting a vast number of Venezuelans, a combination of differing immigration policies and stretched national systems are putting pressure on their capacity to respond. We need to work together—host governments, donors, the private sector and NGOs—to provide timely and holistic support to Venezuelans where they need most.”

The IRC urges the international community to use the conference as an opportunity to move beyond short-term measures given the protracted nature of the crisis.

The international community should commit to a regional compact for the Venezuelan displacement crisis, whereby host governments commit to a framework for long-term, inclusive policies for displaced Venezuelans (entry requirements, documentation, pathways to citizenship, and integration in health and education systems and the workforce) and donors and international financial institutions pledge long-term financing to support the implementation of these policies. A compact could help ensure safety and protection in the immediate term and promote the development and stability of the region.  

At the same time, the donor conference should not focus on the regional displacement crisis at the expense of the conditions inside Venezuela that drive people to leave the country in the first place. The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has received far less funding and support than the regional crisis it sparked and continues to drive, or humanitarian crises of comparable scale. Last year, the Venezuela HRP was the second most underfunded crisis in the world. Halfway through 2021, it has received just 3% of the required funds. 

A comprehensive approach to the Venezuela crisis

The IRC’s programming includes protecting children and adolescents with psychosocial services and education; empowering people with cash assistance programs; granting access to health care, including sexual and reproductive health and primary attention; delivering child malnutrition services; and developing prevention and response programs to gender-based violence. Additionally, the IRC launched InfoPa’lante—as part of the Global Signpost project—a digital platform to help displaced populations access information on civil and legal rights, employment, access to health care and COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRC has pivoted its programming to provide safe, reliable, and innovative response, setting mobile health clinics and providing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses.