As the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, I manage a dedicated team that runs our humanitarian assistance programs around the world and works to advance America’s global leadership in humanitarian response and diplomacy. You can see this leadership in action in our response to the Venezuela refugee and migrant crisis.
Our partners at the UN Refugee Agency have identified the Venezuelan crisis as the largest in the history of South America. Nearly 4.8 million Venezuelans have been forced to flee their homes by the corrupt Maduro regime. Hospitals lack equipment and medicine, including vaccines, which has led to a resurgence of preventable diseases. Blackouts are the norm – leading to shortages of clean drinking water. Food is scarce. Until the political, economic, and humanitarian crisis inside Venezuela is resolved, Venezuelans will continue to seek refuge in neighboring countries.
Since 2017, the United States has provided over $656 million to aid the Venezuela crisis response, of which nearly $473 million is humanitarian assistance for the millions of Venezuelans who have been forced to flee their homes and those facing acute humanitarian needs inside Venezuela. We manage more than $208 million of that total to provide Venezuelans with life-saving food and shelter, help them register for services, and integrate them into host countries with access to education and health care. On the ground, that looks like the story of Mara who left her home in the middle of the night and traveled for 33 hours to find refuge in Colombia. She was able to find employment in a bakery and now makes cakes and pastries. Through thousands of other stories like Mara’s, our assistance complements the efforts of the governments in the region hosting refugees and migrants. Supporting governments promotes regional stability which helps Venezuelans meet their needs close to home so when changes come to Venezuela, they are ready to return home safely and voluntarily.
— Population, Refugees, and Migration Bureau (@StatePRM) December 31, 2019
However, many challenges remain. There are disturbing indicators that women are suffering from gender-based violence and are at risk of human trafficking, particularly in areas bordering Venezuela. Venezuelans also face danger of discrimination when seeking work, shelter, health care, and education. We are continuing to work with regional partners and the international community to address these issues.
While we have made a significant impact as the largest donor to the Venezuelan response, this would not be possible without our international and nongovernmental humanitarian partners. And more work needs to be done. We continue to urge the international donor community to provide support for the crisis response so that Venezuelans displaced abroad and those enduring urgent humanitarian needs in Venezuela may live in dignity. The United States stands with the international community in supporting the region and we must all band together to support Venezuelans and the countries that host them. The United States cannot do it alone.
One year ago today @JGuaido became the legitimate Interim President of #Venezuela. As we’ve seen in his travels this week, he continues to have the support of the international community in his efforts to bring relief to the Venezuelan people’s humanitarian and political crisis.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) January 23, 2020
About the Author: Carol Thompson O’Connell is the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.
To read more about the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration’s response to the Venezuela crisis, see our latest factsheet.
To read more about the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration’s efforts to combat Gender Based Violence, see our factsheet.