The coronavirus has increased the needs and made Venezuelans more vulnerable inside and outside their country, but the promised international funds are conspicuous by their absence.
The coronavirus has increased the needs and made Venezuelans more vulnerable inside and outside their country, but the international funds promised to help them do not arrive and Colombia, the country that has hosted the most refugees from Venezuela, is in a “complex situation”, which makes things even worse.
Who thus speaks is Meghan López, regional director for Latin America, of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a humanitarian organization created 86 years ago at the request of a refugee, Nobel Albert Einstein, author of the theory of relativity, and present in 40 countries.
On the occasion of the visit that the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, made to Colombia on Saturday, López spoke with Efe to spread a call to the international community to fulfill its commitments and not let countries like Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil pay alone in the enormous effort required.
It also asks the United States Government in particular to help raise the funds necessary to “put an end to the crisis and to be able to deal with the pandemic that is dominating everything. “
“The US has strong programs in Colombia, but more can always be done,” says López.
Only 8% of the funds committed for the UN Humanitarian Response Plan for Venezuela and 21% of those for the Regional Response Plan for Emigrants and Refugees from Venezuela have been made effective, says López from Maryland in a telephone interview.
When asked if COVID-19 may be the cause, he points out that funds had been committed for a year before the disease appeared, but also donors should understand that the pandemic makes it more necessary that never helps.
The regional head of IRC highlights that for each Syrian refugee the amount of 1,500 dollars has been paid, while for each one of the 4.5 million Venezuelans outside their country it is 1,120 dollars.
López has nothing but words of praise for the actions of the Government of Colombia for having opened the doors of the country to the victims of a regional humanitarian crisis of “monumental” proportions and “never having stopped responding” despite the difficulties.
According to ICR, some 1.3 million Venezuelans are in Colombia.
It has done everything that humanitarian organizations recommend in cases like this, “it has been a great job,” but Colombia is also going through difficult hours: “Social unrest, growing xenophobia and a worsening economic situation,” he stresses.
According to official Colombian statistical data, in the second quarter of 2020 the economic activity of Colombia fell 15.7% compared to the same period in 2019.
In July 2020, the unemployment rate was 20.2% compared to 10.7% for the same month in 2019.
To that “complex situation” we must add the exodus of Venezuelans returning to their country through Colombia.
López points out that it is not that the situation in Venezuela has improved, but rather the opposite, but ICR staff on the Colombian-Venezuelan border say that when they ask those who return, they answer that “they prefer to die of hunger, helplessness and poverty ” in your country than abroad.
From mid-March 2020, about 100,000 Venezuelans have returned to Venezuela, according to the data handled by IRC.