Social protection and Venezuelan migration
in Latin America and the Caribbean in the context of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic represents an enormous challenge for all countries due to its public health consequences and socio-economic effects on families. In this difficult context, the Latin America and the Caribbean region is facing the largest displacement in its recent history, with approximately 4.2 million Venezuelans now living in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. This migrant population faces various risks, whether linked to the migration process or their migratory status, or others that were aggravated by the health emergency. Their extreme vulnerability to the socioeconomic impacts of the measures adopted in response to COVID-19, given their overrepresentation in the informal sector of the economy, coupled with their low inclusion in social protection mechanisms, profoundly jeopardizes their welfare and compromises public health as well as the overall well-being of local populations.
Faced with this scenario, social protection may play a fundamental role in reducing the vulnerabilities of migrants and in helping to mitigate the impact of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Several of the findings of this note show that LAC countries have employed the components of social protection by using programs of social assistance, social security, and the labor market to protect the affected population. Nevertheless, as of October 2020, there are few government programs that include the Venezuelan migrant population, being mostly social assistance programs, and, when they do, it is almost always those who have legal migratory status in the country.
This technical note developed by the IPC-IG, UNICEF LACRO and WFP analyses the inclusion of the Venezuelan migrant population in social protection as part of the response to the pandemic emergency in nine countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Moreover, it assesses the specific risks and vulnerabilities inherent to the migrant condition (Chapter 2), highlights the main national and international normative frameworks that recognize their rights (Chapter 3) and analyses the effective access of migrants to social protection systems both prior to the pandemic and during the COVID-19 emergency (Chapter 4 and 5). Finally, it presents the main findings and some reflections for the promotion of inclusive social protection systems (Chapter 6 and 7).