Venezuelan Refugee and Migrant Crisis


Approximately 4.5 million[1] refugees and migrants have left Venezuela as a result of the political turmoil, socio economic instability and the ongoing humanitarian crisis – triggering the largest displacement in Latin America’s recent history.

The vast majority of Venezuelans on the move (3.7 million) have stayed within the region. Colombia hosts the greatest number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, a total of 1.4 million. Other hosting nations include Peru (860,000), Chile (371,000), Ecuador (330,000) and Brazil (212,000).

Thousands of Venezuelans cross various South American countries on foot. Many flee without knowing their final destination.

Some have left behind their families, their communities and their loved ones. Others are moving to reunited with them.

Refugees and migrants compelled to leave Venezuela use diverse routes to reach their destination including by land, plane and sea, sometimes putting their lives at risk. More people are taking sea routes than in years prior too – taking short maritime routes toward neighbouring Caribbean islands.

Many leave without documents to cross borders. They face great risks at the hands of smugglers and traffickers.

Countries in the region have generously opened their borders, providing Venezuelans with access to healthcare, education and employment.

In Brazil, for example, the largest Venezuelan inflow has been registered in the State of Roraima. In Colombia, most people are in the city of Cucuta. Numerous entries of Venezuelan nationals into Ecuador are also registered through Rumichaca, into Peru through Tumbes on the border with Ecuador, and in Chile through Tacna on the Peruvian border.

IOM, in coordination with UNCHR and other humanitarian partners, has been supporting governments through:

  • Timely data gathering and analysis on movements and needs (DTM),
  • Distribution of emergency kits and non-food items,
  • Provision of temporary accommodation,
  • Health care and food,
  • Livelihood opportunities,
  • Humanitarian transportation,
  • Referrals to protection services including psychosocial support,
  • Access documentation and regularization services,
  • Relocation,
  • Family reunification.
  • Assistance to survivors of Gender-Based Violence and trafficking,
  • Information campaigns to prevent xenophobia
  • Socio economic and cultural integration.


 [1] Based on Government figures, October 2019