Children on the Move in South America, and crisis-affected communities
Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition, education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
Children on the Move in South America, and crisis-affected communities, snapshot
- South America and some countries in the Caribbean face overlapping emergencies, including migration , violence and climate change. These have compounded people's existing exclusion and vulnerability, leaving 17.2 million people, including 5.5 million children needing humanitarian assistance.
- UNICEF will continue to reach refugee and migrant children, vulnerable children from host communities and other people in need of support with essential child protection, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, health, nutrition and social protection services, mainstreaming gender and gender-based violence prevention and mitigation in its response. UNICEF will also strengthen preparedness to ensure that its country offices are equipped to respond to diverse crises and support partners and national capacities.
- UNICEF is requesting $177.4 million to meet the needs of 1.4 million children in 10 targeted countries, responding to the situation of children on the move and host communities, internally displaced people and, in some countries, children affected by violence, including vulnerable indigenous children.
Key planned targets
590,210 children and women accessing primary health care
280,129 children/caregivers accessing community-based mental health and psychosocial support
193,689 children accessing formal or non-formal education, including early learning
286,533 people accessing a sufficient quantity and quality of water
Funding requirements for 2024
Country needs and strategy
South America and some countries in the Caribbean faces multiple crises that are political, social, economic and meteorological and environmental in nature. Increasing migration movements, violence, climate change, growing insecurity due to organized crime and an increase in energy and food prices – prompted by the war in Ukraine – will continue to impact countries in Latin American and the Caribbean in 2024, exacerbating people's exclusion and vulnerability and severely impacting children. In addition, such climate patterns as the El Niño phenomenon are expected to cause more extreme weather events in the region.
In Colombia, an estimated 7.7 million people, including 2.4 million children, will need humanitarian assistance in 2024 due to the impacts of internal armed conflict and extreme climate events. Children and adolescents face many crises, including conflicts, displacement, human mobility and malnutrition. With a limited institutional response and the presence of indigenous and Afro communities, who are particularly vulnerable to confinement and displacement, civilians continue to be affected by the reconfiguration of armed groups following the peace agreement that was signed in 2016.
Over the last decade, the Latin American and Caribbean region has been home to one of the largest refugee and migration crises in the world, largely due to the protracted socioeconomic and political crisis in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. It is estimated that 9.5 million refugees and migrants linked to this crisis will be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2024. There are also smaller – yet significant – movements of people within the region, including those moving from Cuba and Nicaragua, those moving within and beyond the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru and the extracontinental flows of migrants and refugees arriving in the region from Africa and Asia.
Despite ongoing efforts by some governments in the region, refugee and migrant children continue to face substantial barriers accessing essential services, including social protection, in transit countries and at their destinations. And host communities struggle to meet the service and protection needs of migrant and local populations, causing additional strain on limited resources. Furthermore, tighter immigration measures taken by other countries create significant challenges. Migrants and refugees without official documentation find themselves stranded at border points without access to the most basic services. This leads them to travel along irregular pathways where they are exposed to violence including gender-based violence, trafficking and smuggling, particularly affecting women and girls. Moreover, refugee and migrant children are highly vulnerable to protection risks including violence, psychosocial distress and exploitation.
In 2024, UNICEF has planned actions in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay, places where most of the population in need is located and where the humanitarian needs are the highest. UNICEF will respond to each country context by bridging life-saving relief with efforts to foster longer-term access to basic services.
UNICEF will continue to address pressing needs in hotspots at borders and along transit paths, as well as in resettlement and host communities, while keeping child protection at the centre of its humanitarian action. Accountability to affected populations will be strengthened, as will the provision of services that are age-, gender- and disability-appropriate. UNICEF response is informed by gender analysis, accounting for the differentiated risks, needs and capacities of women and girls and men and boys.
In coordination with governments, United Nations agencies and partners, UNICEF will promote and advocate for the rights of migrant, refugee and internally displaced children and their families, including host communities and indigenous populations; ensure access to child protection, education, gender-based violence prevention and response, social protection, health, nutrition and WASH services. The organization will promote participation and accountability, social inclusion, integration and prevention of xenophobia by ensuring access to social services and long-term solutions, regularization of children’s and families’ legal status and legal identity and strengthened social policies and national and local capacities. In Colombia, UNICEF will continue to work closely with national and local authorities, other United Nations agencies and non-governmental and civil society organizations to provide children and families affected by armed violence, internal displacement and confinement with education, protection, WASH, health and nutrition services.
At the regional level, UNICEF will provide direct support to field teams to respond to the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable migrants and refugees, as well as people affected by violence and displacement, particularly unaccompanied and separated children, children with disabilities and those from indigenous groups. UNICEF will also continue to contribute to the implementation and sectoral coordination of the inter-agency Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan, including strategic leadership in child protection, education, nutrition, WASH, cash voucher assistance and social protection. UNICEF closely monitors the humanitarian situation through an innovative methodology aimed at engaging people on the move; providing an early warning mechanism on increased flows; and generating information about available services. The mechanism is aimed at informing UNICEF programmes to adapt and improve the response.
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 in South America, and and other crisis-affected communities; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.