As at 29 October 2020, Latin America had reported close to 10.9 million cases of COVID-19 and close to 393,000 deaths. The region accounts for less than one tenth of the world’s population, yet has one third of the recorded deaths from COVID-19. Most schools in the region have remained closed since initial lockdown in March. Only two countries, Nicaragua and Uruguay, have fully reopened schools, while Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia have partially reopened schools. Schools in the remaining 12 countries of Central and Southern America remain closed, the majority through the end of 2020 or early 2021. As at 30 September, approximately 98% of more than 131 million school-aged children in Latin America were not receiving face-to-face education.
The deepening political and socio-economic crisis in Venezuela has led to one of the biggest mass displacements in the history of South America. Although no consolidated figure for the region is available, all sources indicate that migration from Venezuela to neighbouring countries is drastically increasing. 117,300 Venezuelans filed asylum claims in the first half of 2018 alone, already more than the number of asylum claims reported at the end of 2017 (113,438).
Many Venezuelans in host countries are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Food, nutrition, health and WASH needs have been identified. Protection assistance is also crucial, including legal help with documentation in order to access healthcare and employment. Venezuelan migrants also face growing xenophobia from host communities, and are at risk of exploitation, trafficking, and SGBV.
As the crisis inside Venezuela continues to deteriorate, host countries are increasingly struggling to respond to the influx of Venezuelans. The rising number of people entering neighbouring countries is putting a strain on basic services, especially in border areas. Recent measures in several countries deter Venezuelans from entering, such as limiting admission to people with a passport, or enforcing quotas at the border.
The economic crisis in Venezuela has led to a deterioration of the humanitarian conditions and increased humanitarian needs. Import restrictions and hyperinflation reduce availability and access to basic goods and services. The economic crisis is exacerbated by a political crisis revolving around the erosion of democratic institutions. While the number of people in need in Venezuela and the severity of need is unclear due to lack of data, surveys conducted by local organisations point to an increasingly dire situation. Migration to other countries in South America, particularly Colombia and Brazil, has significantly increased since 2017 and the host countries are increasingly struggling to receive these arrivals. Over one million Venezuelans are estimated to live in Colombia, up from some 300,000 in mid-2017. Priority needs of people affected by the crisis inside Venezuela include food, health, nutrition, and protection. Many migrants from Venezuela hosted by countries in the region also face growing humanitarian concerns, particularly protection and shelter needs.