PANAMA CITY, Panama, June 16, 2020 — Ahead of World Refugee Day, international aid agency World Vision has released a report that warns displaced Venezuelan children are at heightened risk of poverty and exploitation as thousands once again uproot their lives to seek safety during the coronavirus pandemic. More than 5.1 million Venezuelans have fled years of economic and political crisis to countries throughout Latin America. They now face a double crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The report Migration and COVID-19: Venezuelan Children Between a Rock and a Hard Place assessed 392 Venezuelan children in Venezuela and six host countries and found:
- One in every four children has been separated from their parents during the coronavirus outbreak
- One in three children goes to bed hungry
- 60% of the children reported an increase in xenophobia and discrimination against them during the COVID-19 crisis
- 63% report they are not able to continue their studies during the pandemic, including 77% of those living in Brazil
- 34% said they do not have access to healthcare services
- 20% said they do not have access to water and soap to maintain good hygiene during quarantine
Due to the loss of income, 63% of families have either had to look for cheaper accommodation, find a shelter or are on the streets. Another 28% are at risk of eviction. This highlights the growing vulnerabilities migrant children face as the COVID-19 pandemic increases the strain on already fragile economies and governments in the region.
“These children were already amongst the most vulnerable in the world before the health crisis hit,” said Dana Buzducea, Partnership Leader for Advocacy and External Engagement at World Vision International. “Parents have lost jobs, families are being evicted from their homes, xenophobia is on the rise and many children don’t know where their next meal will come from. This study paints a disheartening picture of the reality so many children are living in today.
“The measures taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 across the region, while critically important, are forcing families to move because they can no longer make ends meet.
“Our colleagues are reporting floods of people sleeping at the borders or crossing without documentation, making children extremely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. We know human trafficking and sexual abuse is happening and we fear many cases are going undetected during the chaos of the pandemic,” said Buzducea.
The study was conducted in April in Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile. Currently, seven million people are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Venezuela. Outside of Venezuela, more than 3.6 million children need protection services, according to the United Nations’ updated response plan for the Venezuela crisis. That’s 400,000 more people than needed protection at the end of 2019.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, World Vision has adapted its existing work to help 50,000 of the most vulnerable people in Venezuela by addressing urgent needs, such as food and education as well as water, sanitation and hygiene. World Vision is providing food, cash transfers and educational materials in addition toi water, sanitation and hygiene assistance.
In partnership with local organisations and faith leaders, World Vision’s food, livelihoods, child protection and education programmes have already reached more than 250,000 people in host countries.
“As we mark World Refugee Day, it’s vital we confront the harsh reality facing so many children forced from their homes. It is a very serious crisis. Children are going to bed hungry, many have been separated from parents and far too many are at serious risk of abuse and exploitation. World Vision and other aid agencies will continue to work with vulnerable families as they battle the secondary impacts of COVID-19 but we cannot do this alone. The international community must provide the necessary funding to support these children and protect them from unimaginable dangers,” said Buzducea.
Notes to editors:
For further information or to organise an interview, please contact:
Chris Huber, Venezuela Crisis Response communications manager, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Mobile: +1-360-319-4338, Skype: chris.huberwv
World Vision’s #HiddenHero campaign will shed light throughout our response on those making a real, but unseen difference for the most vulnerable children facing the wrath of COVID-19 in their lives.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit www.wvi.org or follow us on Twitter @WorldVision