Four things you should know about Venezuelans in Colombia

Millions of Venezuelans have fled over the border into neighbouring Colombia in recent years. When they arrive, many face a brutal reality of poverty, danger and discrimination.


#1 Many new arrivals are forced to sleep on the streets

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is witnessing more migrants and refugees sleeping on the streets in Colombia. Many Venezuelans manage to cross the border via unofficial routes, but when they arrive in Colombia they do not know where they will sleep for the night. Some sleep on the streets for several days.

Imagine you have two options at night: sleep on the streets and become a victim of criminals or stay awake to prevent risks. Without a safe haven, thousands of migrants and refugees are only able to rest during the day, preventing them from finding a shelter, a job or accessing education.

#2 Education and jobs should be a priority

At least 70 per cent of the Venezuelans we recently talked to in the border areas said they would prefer to stay in Colombia. Timely emergency response is urgently needed but access to education and job opportunities must be also guaranteed.

At the same time, opportunities must be offered without discrimination. Colombia must continue to make every effort to prevent and reject any form of xenophobia against the Venezuelan migrants and refugees.

#3 The crisis is underfunded

As of 1 June 2021, only $8 out of every $100 requested by civil society organisations had been received and reported. Canada will host the next International Donors’ Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants on 17 June 2021. Greater commitment from donors is urgently needed.

“Without shelter, education or work, I had to sell sex for survival,” a migrant in Colombia told NRC. If the funding shortfall continues, even more migrants and refugees will have to face a brutal reality.

#4 Better coordination is needed

“None of the governments are doing enough to prevent dangers at the border,” a Venezuelan woman told NRC. A victim of sexual violence, she wonders why there is no life-saving dialogue.

Colombia’s migration department has announced it will re-open its border with Venezuela on 1 July. The Venezuelan government, in recent public comments, said it would consult with governors in the border region to determine whether it is safe to reciprocate the Colombian move.

It is necessary to negotiate and coordinate. Many Venezuelan family members have not been able to see each other for more than five years. Governments must take the right decisions for the wellbeing of their citizens.


This article was possible thanks to the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of the European Union, and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.