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Latin America: Regional declaration regarding the situation of the Venezuelan migrant population
28 August 2017

The Jesuit Refugee Service is present in Venezuela since 2001. (JRS Venezuela)

Bogota, 28 August 2017 - Venezuela is now experiencing one of the most difficult moments in its recent history, not only politically, but also economically, and socially. This situation has provoked a generalized crisis that questions any guarantee of the effective enjoyment of fundamental rights by the people that live there, not only of civil and political rights, but also of economic and social rights.

This situation has led to large numbers of people being forced to migrate to other parts of the world, in circumstances that expose women and men of all ages, especially children, adolescents, and young adults (NNJA), to difficult situations.

In Latin America, the migratory flow of people of Venezuelan nationality has headed mainly to: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, The Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica, among others.

For example, in Mexico, according to COMAR (Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance) data, in 2014, 56 applications for refuge were filed, in 2016, 361 applications were filed, and 405 applications were filed between January and March of 2017. According to a study carried out by Colombia Migration with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), by June of 2017, Colombia had an estimated total of 300,748 Venezuelans living in the country. This situation has led to the implementation of the Border Migration Card (TMF) and the Special Residence Permit (PEP), issued by the Colombian government. In Ecuador, although no current official figures are known, according to the records of the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses, in 2016, 102,619 people of Venezuelan nationality entered the country, a significant increase compared to previous years (27,459 in 2012, 64,479 in 2013, 88,196 in 2014, and 77,760 in 2015, respectively). Due to the growing influx of Venezuelans into their country, on January 3, 2017, Peru issued Supreme Decree No. 002-2017-IN5 through the Ministry of the Interior, establishing guidelines to facilitate the migratory regularization of Venezuelan citizens through the granting of a Temporary Residence (PTP) card. This decree entered into force on February 2, and the deadline for submitting applications was August 2, 2017. 1

Although countries have implemented actions to mitigate the situation, these have been limited, given that there is little or no accessibility and public dissemination of up-to-date migration data, or of information regarding the migrant and refugee population 2, which results in the true magnitude of the problem being concealed. This demonstrates serious conditions that require a timely and coordinated response by public institutions with the support of the general public to confront potential difficulties in protecting the rights of Venezuelans in a state of human mobility in the region.

Some of the problems that arise from this situation are: a difficulty in accessing rights, such as health and education for NNJA, labor exploitation, and a lack of guarantees and due process for all those who are in a situation requiring international protection 3, as well as attitudes of discrimination or xenophobia at transit or destination sites, among others.

Therefore, the JRS offices for Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Mexico, and Latin America and the Caribbean jointly urge the countries in the region to conduct more detailed monitoring, and to urgently review and improve response actions that are being implemented in order to ensure that these respond in a comprehensive, timely, and rights-based manner. This is established by international documents, especially the Cartagena Declaration 4, seeking the just and dignified treatment of this population, which suffers from difficult circumstances and needs both support and guarantees that all its rights will be respected. Finally, we encourage the general public to promote and act in solidarity and hospitality with those who come in search of support and refuge.


1 The Office of the People’s Advocate of Peru. Document AYUDA MEMORIA SOBRE LA SITUACIÓN DE CIUDADANOS/AS VENEZOLANOS EN EL PERÚ (AID REPORT ON THE SITUATION OF VENEZUELAN CITIZENS IN PERU). Submitted to the IACHR for the 163rd session period. July 7, 2017. Lima, Peru.
2 The 1951 UN Convention relating to the status of refugees is the cornerstone of refugee protection at the international level However, the definition of refugee considered there does not cover all situations of forced displacement that are present day to day in the Latin American context. At Jesuit Refugee Service, we are aware of the problems of this population in the region, and for that reason, we see the need to use a broader definition of refugee, such as the one offered by the Catholic Church during the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in 1992, where the Pontifical Council Cor Unum incorporated the concept of "de facto refugee,” which refers not only to any person persecuted because of their race, religion, or their belonging to social or political groups, but also to every victim of armed conflicts, erroneous economic policies, or natural disasters, and for humanitarian reasons.
3 The lack of minimal Humanitarian guarantees during the process application study, difficulties in accessing emergency housing and decent living conditions, and pregnant and nursing women facing problems accessing health care are viewed with concern.
4 (…) "In this regard, the Inter-American Court has held that, in view of the progressive development of international law, the obligations arising from the right to seek and receive asylum are operative with respect to those persons who meet the requirements of the expanded definition of the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees of 1984, which responds not only to the dynamics of forced displacement that originated it, but also satisfies the protection challenges arising from other patterns of displacement that occur today." IACHR, the Human rights of migrants, refugees, stateless persons, victims of human trafficking, and internally displaced persons: Norms and standards of the Inter-American Human Rights System, December 31, 2015.

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