Children on the move, including from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and COVID-19 Appeal
Humanitarian Action for Children
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Children on the move, including from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and people affected by COVID-19 snapshot
- In 2021, an estimated 12.2 million people, including 4.3 million children, will need humanitarian assistance related to: migration flows from and returns to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; needs related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic; violence; and internal displacement.
- In response, UNICEF will support the safe return to school and provide water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection and cash-based interventions, among others.
- UNICEF requests US$94.7 million to address the humanitarian needs – including those related to COVID-19 – of the following groups: (1) the most vulnerable Venezuelan migrant and refugee children and their families and host communities in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago; (2) the most vulnerable non-migrant children and families affected by COVID-19 in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru; and (3) children affected by violence and displacement in Colombia and Ecuador.
Key planned results for 2021
707,936 people reached with critical water, sanitation and hygiene supplies and services
278,392 children / caregivers accessing mental health and psychosocial support
1.2 million children accessing educational services
35,000 households reached with cash transfers across sectors
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
In 2021, an estimated 12.2 million people, including 4.3 million children, will need humanitarian assistance due to migration outflows from and returns to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and violence and internal displacement in Colombia and northern Ecuador.
There are 5.1 million Venezuelans on the move, including 4.2 million who are moving within the region. Approximately 3.3 million Venezuelans, including indigenous populations, are settled in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago. These countries host the most vulnerable Venezuelans, mainly youth, with limited livelihood opportunities and poor access to health, nutrition, education, protection and WASH services. With restrictive migration policies in place and no access to safety nets, COVID-19 lockdowns are disproportionately affecting Venezuelans.
Many migrants have returned to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela due to confinement and because they were unable to cover their basic needs. There are 95,000 returnees and more are expected in the coming months.
Migrants often choose irregular routes, hampering efforts to monitor children’s conditions. Children on the move, who are often unaccompanied, are at risk of family separation, trafficking, abuse, exploitation, child recruitment, gender-based violence and exposure to COVID-19. They often lack access to education and other basic services.
Vulnerable groups in the region are also confronting the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as violence and internal displacement in Colombia and Ecuador. Among those affected, local indigenous people and people in the poorer wealth quintiles, particularly women and girls, are most vulnerable. COVID-19 has decreased government capacities to deliver services, which were already stretched by pre-existing crises, such as migration, displacement and violence. The number of people living in poverty has increased by nearly 44.5 million in 2020, and the unemployment rate has reached nearly 13.5 per cent.
In Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, approximately 7.5 million vulnerable people will need assistance due to COVID-19, violence and internal displacement. These people have limited access to health care, including maternal health and vaccinations, and nutrition, child protection, education, early childhood development, WASH and social protection services. Approximately 7 million people are severely food insecure, and at least 21 million learners are affected by school closures. Girls and women are increasingly vulnerable to gender-based violence; and confinement measures have given rise to domestic violence and limited opportunities for girls and women to leave abusive settings.
In line with its Agenda for Refugee and Migrant Children and the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action, UNICEF, with governments and partners, will prioritize three strategic objectives: (1) promote and advocate for the rights of migrant, refugee and internally displaced children and their families, including indigenous populations; (2) ensure access to child and social protection, education, prevention of gender-based violence, early childhood development, health, nutrition and WASH services for migrant, refugee, internally displaced and host community children; and (3) promote social inclusion and integration by ensuring access to social services and humanitarian cash transfers; the regularization of children’s and families’ legal status; strengthened social policies and national/local capacities; and strong linkages between humanitarian action and development programmes.
Following global guidance on COVID-19, the COVID-19 response strategy will focus on vulnerable affected populations, emphasizing indigenous people. It encompasses: (1) limiting human-to-human transmission and minimizing COVID-19 morbidity and mortality by supporting the public health response for prevention, care and treatment, including through the provision of supplies; and (2) preventing and addressing the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 and ensuring the continuity of critical services for children.
Given the complexity of the situation, and drawing on its long-term presence in the countries covered by this appeal, UNICEF will link its humanitarian action and development programming to strengthen policies and systems and enhance resilience. Across sectors, national and partner capacities will be strengthened to respond to the needs / support the integration of migrants, refugees, internally displaced and violence-affected children and families. Emergency response will be based on risk-informed programming, including situation analysis, emergency scenario construction and preparedness/response planning. This will facilitate adjustments to interventions as needed. UNICEF will also prioritize protection against sexual exploitation and abuse and gender-based violence, and the provision of age-, gender- and disability-appropriate services. As per its Grand Bargain commitments, UNICEF will mainstream cash-based interventions, community engagement, accountability to affected populations and the localization of interventions.
At the regional level, UNICEF will support country offices to adopt adequate preparedness and response measures. At the national and regional levels, UNICEF will collaborate with other United Nations agencies and partners in line with the inter-agency 2021 Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan and provide leadership in the child protection, education, nutrition, WASH and communications sectors. Inter-agency initiatives will focus on supported space, communication for development, communication with communities, the prevention and management of gender-based violence and information management.
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing crises affecting children on the move, including from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and people affected by COVID-19; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.