Caritas Luxembourg helps Venezuelan refugees
Thursday 16 January 2020
Venezuela has been undergoing an acute crisis for years, caused by, among other things, ongoing power struggles, economic mismanagement and corruption. The conflict between the government and the opposition has aggravated the situation. The consequences are more than dramatic for the population, which lacks everything: food, medicine, petrol, drinking water, electricity, medical care, etc. Unemployment has reached record levels and violence is omnipresent.
Due to inflation, banknotes are no longer worth anything. Everything is missing. It's so sad. We provide basic goods to help the most vulnerable people to cope with the crisis." Pedro Antunes, Caritas Luxembourg staff member in Venezuela and Colombia.
This situation of insecurity and scarcity is particularly distressing for young children, pregnant women, the elderly etc.. According to a survey by Caritas Venezuela, 12% of children in the poorest communities are affected by moderate or severe malnutrition. As a result, some four million Venezuelans have fled their country in recent years and taken refuge in neighbouring countries including Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia. However, in these host communities, which are also very poor, the situation remains very precarious for these Venezuelan refugees.
Caritas Luxembourg is helping these communities, in collaboration with local Caritas organisations. Humanitarian aid and protection is provided in six different countries, including Venezuela. Women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities, but also indigenous people are particularly targeted. Aid varies according to needs: food, hygiene items and cooking utensils. Soup kitchens are distributed. The creation of vegetable gardens and the breeding of small animals are encouraged to ensure food security for the people. Training courses on nutrition and hygiene are organized. In coordination with public institutions, housing is renovated and rental and transport costs are covered. In order to increase their resilience to these difficulties and to better bounce back, communities develop plans in collaboration with Caritas. Psychosocial support and legal advice are also provided.
Finally, both in Venezuela and in the various Latin American countries hosting refugees, Caritas advocates for the regularisation of Venezuelan refugees. This regularisation would allow them to have access to healthcare and public aid in their host country. In addition, Caritas helps them obtain work permits, which is crucial for refugee families. Caritas provides first aid on arrival and then supplements for families still in need, unable to work.
This project is co-financed by the European Commission and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg.
Photos credits: © Caritas Internationalis, Caritas Ecuador, Caritas Venezuela