28 January 2019
Solidarity Needed to Overcome ‘Isolated’ Attacks on Venezuela Refugees, Migrants
© UNHCR/Elisabet Diaz Sanmartin
A family of Venezuelans found a new home in Tumbes, Peru, thanks to local solidarity. Here, two children play on the
floor of the improvised shelter they are living in.
Attacks and hate speech against Venezuelans seeking shelter in neighbouring countries should be condemned “with a clear
and forceful message of rejection” and solidarity, a top UN refugee agency (UNHCR
) and UN migration agency (IOM
) official said in a statement on Monday.
Eduardo Stein, Joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants, made his comments after the UN Security Council
met at the weekend to discuss the situation in the country, where opposition leader Juan Guaidó declared himself
President on 23 January.
“Although isolated and unrepresentative, these acts of hatred, intolerance and xenophobia are extremely worrying,” Mr.
, in his appeal to “several” unnamed countries.
“Racism, misogyny and xenophobia have no place in our countries and must be firmly condemned,” the UNHCR/IOM official
added, his statement following a warning in November that the reception capacity of Venezuela’s neighbours was becoming
While urging “political and opinion leaders” to call for “peace, justice, calm and restraint”, Mr. Stein also
highlighted the importance of responsible traditional and online media reporting.
“The media and users of social networks…must report the facts in a responsible manner, without inciting xenophobic
attitudes and actions and must also condemn all physical or verbal attacks against refugees, migrants and other foreign
persons, when they occur,” said Mr. Stein, a former Guatemalan Vice-President.
According to UNHCR and IOM, thousands of people continue to leave Venezuela every day, amid an ongoing humanitarian
crisis linked to an economy in freefall and continuing political upheaval.
More than three million Venezuelans have left their country since 2015, with 2.4 million in neighbouring or nearby
countries. Most are in Colombia, which houses well over one million who have fled their homes.
This is followed by Peru (more than 500,000) Ecuador (more than 220,000), Argentina (130,000) Chile (more than 100,000)
and Brazil (85,000).
In addition to South American countries, countries in Central America and the Caribbean also recorded increasing
arrivals of refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Panama, for example, hosts at least 94,000 Venezuelans.
In response to South America’s biggest exodus in its history, UNHCR and IOM announced the creation of a regional initiative
in May 2018 to support governments as they sought to aid refugees and migrants from Venezuela.
This Regional Platform is open to organisations that have the capacity to respond to the needs of Venezuelan refugees
and migrants; it has more than 30 member-organizations, including UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and two
Red Cross movements.
Mr. Stein was appointed in September last year. His mission is to promote the dialogue and consensus necessary for the
humanitarian response, including access to territory, refugee protection, legal stay arrangements and the identification
of solutions for Venezuelan swelling ranks of refugees and migrants.
“Only through dialogue, solidarity, justice, coexistence and respect for diversity can we solve the multiple challenges
that confront our region,” he said. “Given the current humanitarian and political challenges, Latin America must remain
faithful to its tradition of solidarity.”