GCRF Andean Network for Venezuelan Migrants

Lead Research Organisation: Peruvian University Cayetano Heredia
Department Name: School of Public Health and Admin


Between January 2017 and December 2018, 3.2 million Venezuelans migrated from their country as a result of acute domestic political and economic crisis. The largest inflow was to the Andean countries of Latin America: Colombia (1.3 million), Ecuador (220,000), Peru (635,000) and Chile (100,000). The ongoing political and constitutional conflict in Venezuela (Jan 2019-) elevated the risk of this outflow being sustained, a mega-migration process driven by factors of expulsion rather than attraction (Michael Piore 1979).

This migratory process is unprecedented for Latin American countries, which have not developed adequate regional co-ordination mechanisms for addressing large scale hemispheric displacement. This capacity weakness is further reflected in the migrant flows from Central America to Mexico and the US, but with the Venezuela / Latin American migratory dynamic being significant due to the speed of the exodus. The 'tide of migrants' has put enormous pressures on receiving countries and revealed major weaknesses in technical and humanitarian responses that this project seeks to address.

All migration has a chain of processes for the migrant: the decision, the journey, the crossing of borders, the first contacts, the resettlement, the search for work and resocialization. This chain is difficult, but it is even more so when the migration is disruptive, as in this case, wherein the migrant risks loss of fundamental rights and protections, separation from family and other 'resilience' networks, and suffers new labour, income, gender and cultural inequalities. The tensions between Venezuela and neighbouring countries, and between Venezuelans and host communities further complicates the situation of migrants and exacerbates their vulnerabilities.

The speed, scale and context of migrant outflows has meant Venezuelans lack appropriate documentation, they do not have access to health, housing, education or social services and there has been elevated dependence on employment in poorly remunerated, informal and also criminal sectors (INEI, 2018, Baltica, Tunstall, Pickett and Gideon, 2013, Fundaredes 2018). There was consequently a mismatch in the social protection and health systems of receiving countries, which were not prepared to meet the urgent needs of this migrant population. While the Andean states have sought to address the new humanitarian and health challenge, and developed Initiatives to address this gap, a number of problems have arisen: provision has fueled resentment among populations in receiving countries; addressing migrant needs has highlighted existing deficiencies in technical and human capacity, and responses have been short term and emergency based. This has precluded co-operation and the sharing of best practice and lessons learned across Andean countries. .

The aim of the Andean network project / proposal is to strengthen the responses of countries to this new problem of mass migration, through cooperative learning. This network fits with the need to strengthen capacities and promote disciplinary and inter-disciplinary exchange, to respond to emergencies in an agile manner and from an evidence base. The project is informed by the sustainability approach of the SDGs, promoting sustainable health and well-being and sensitive to differentiated gender and generational needs.

The Andean network plans two international seminars (Lima and Bogotá) for the exchange of experiences (hemispheric and international? Ie how did Germany cope with 1.3 million migrants / refugees, Canada also etc); four national workshops, one per country; visits to Venezuelan communities to see their situation live and collect their opinions; and communication, dissemination and sensitization activities, with a webpage, newsletters, bulletins and reports.

Planned Impact

The Network will have an impact on the problem of Venezuelan migrants by socialising solutions that have been or are being implemented by the other countries of the Andean region. But on the other hand it will have a general impact on Latin American societies because it will lower the social tensions generated by this massive influx of immigrants. It is not normal for one country to receive one million or half a million people. There is a sense of solidarity, but also the perception of possible competitors.

The expected impacts on Venezuelan migrants are summarised in the improvement of their quality of life in their countries of destination and in the greatest facilities for their transit and social and labour integration. The ways are diverse:
a) Some countries have more agile mechanisms for registering and providing identity documents to migrants, from which the others will learn.
b) Other countries have already identified the epidemiological profile of migrants and have adapted their offer to these pathologies (for example for diseases such as TB or HIV / AIDS). This will serve as a line of reference and example for countries that do not yet have detailed knowledge of the health needs of migrants.
c) There are countries with social services that support vulnerable and poor people, which have been readjusted to provide social assistance to migrants. They are public systems of coordination with all the ministries, whose agility would prevent people from having a transition full of precariousness.
d) There are popular housing programs and popular housing associations in some countries, whose knowledge could serve the rest of the countries.
e) There are experiences of labour insertion with decent work, which must be analysed, since part of the migrant population is over-exploited in terms of wages and extension of their working hours.

It is important to note that Venezuelan migrants are a recent and massive foreign population, so they could suffer cultural discrimination, or greater gender inequalities, or practice with them a phenomenon similar to South African apartheid, so the impact sought should emphasise the full guarantee of their citizen rights.

Five aspects are proposed in the management of the project, aimed at optimising the possibility of greater impacts:
a) Multiple composition of the National Networks: the impact depends to a large extent on whether the Network is not external to the stakeholders but with them, in particular to work with the presence of the Ministries of Health, associated with the academics and cooperators, in addition of leaders of migrants.
b) Targeting in a few Key Results Areas, to follow them up: in principle one should go from less to more. It is proposed to start with 1 health topic and 2 social issues. We cannot specify now the program of the meetings, but the list of needs reveals some urgent issues (health, social support, decent work, housing).
c) Productive meetings: the seminars and workshops will be well prepared, with a view to specific agreements. We will agree 1 or 2 outcomes for each annual seminar and workshops. International seminars will be held at the end of the first semester of year 1 to review the initial progress and reinforce the project, and at the end of the first semester of the second year to review the activities and identify the final results.
d) Presentations to the institutions involved: The Network will make presentations of its progress in the entities. This will be a way to reinforce their involvement.
e) Incubators of innovations: the Network will encourage the formulation of projects to develop ideas arising from the exchange, thus constituting an ecosystem of innovations, in the search for alliances with other networks and support of international networks. The impact sought will always be double: academic and social.


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