DG's Statements and Speeches
26 May 2020

Remarks by António Vitorino: International Donor Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in Latin America

Distinguished High Representative and Vice-President of the European Union, Josep Borrell, 

Distinguished Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union, and Cooperation of Spain, Arancha Gonzalez Laya,

High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, 

Joint Special Representative of IOM and UNHCR, Eduardo Stein. 

I would like to start by congratulating Spain and the European Union for the organization of this virtual Donor Conference in solidarity with the migrants and refugees from Venezuela, in the context of COVID-19. I want also to congratulate Canada and Norway for their roles as co-conveners of the Conference 

As was highlighted in the previous interventions, the Latin America and Caribbean region has responded from the beginning of this large-scale movement with solidarity, hospitality, and generosity. This was done to a large extent with host countries mobilizing their own resources from national budgets. 

Now, in the context of the COVID-19 situation, and as was also mentioned, migrants and refugees from Venezuela have been overwhelmingly affected by the pandemic. In these extremely difficult circumstances, it is encouraging that again many of the host governments have made considerable efforts to provide some relief to the migrants and refugees from Venezuela.  

A) First, I would like to mention the example of Colombia which has launched a 6-point plan to integrate refugees and migrants in the COVID-19 national response, guaranteeing access to the health system for all Venezuelans. They have also provided food assistance and stopped evictions, among other measures.  

B) I would also like to commend the decision of the government of Ecuador to extend the period of registration for Venezuelans to access regularization.  

C) In Peru, health care professionals, including Venezuelans, can register and access employment in the health sector with approval from the Medical College.  

D) The Covid-19 crisis has required special actions by Brazil, such as the payment of emergency allowances to extremely poor and informal workers, reaching more than 60 million people, including Venezuelan refugees and migrants. 

E) I would like to also mention the example of Argentina, where Venezuelan doctors and health specialists have been contributing in different provinces of the country to respond to COVID-19.  

There are more examples from other countries that are putting in place measures to address the increasing vulnerability of Venezuelan refugees and migrants. Despite all these valuable efforts, refugees and migrants from Venezuela should be more systematically included in national response plans, to fully address their vulnerabilities and to achieve their inclusion in the host societies 

In addition, I would like to highlight the critical role of the private sector in the efforts to assist and integrate the Venezuelans migrants and refugees. In this sense, I am pleased to announce that IOM as part of our efforts to mobilize resources will organize in the next days a joint event with CitiFoundation, USA for IOM and the Government of Colombia,  to address the impact of COVID 19 in migrants and refugees from Venezuela”. 

For these reasons, Venezuelan migrants, and refugees as well as host governments, deserve a decisive show of support from the international community. I am sure that this will be reflected in the pledges that donor countries attending this meeting will announce today. 

Many thanks.