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.
Import restrictions from the economic crisis that escalated in 2014 are resulting in severe food shortages and escalating malnutrition rates. A recent assessment of 526 children in several states found GAM rates of 8.9% and SAM of 3.2%. Severe medicine shortages combined with poor hospital services facilitate the spread of diseases such as malaria and diphtheria. Maternal mortality increased by 65% between 2015 and 2016 according to some government data. Approximately one million children do not go to school due to insecurity, food shortages in schools, and teachers’ absenteeism. Protection concerns are widespread as Venezuela recorded increasing violence with one of the highest homicide rates in the world in 2016.
The Zika virus epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean is most affecting Brazil, with over one million cases estimated. Colombia reports over 18,000 confirmed and 2,000 suspected cases and anticipates over 650,000. El Salvador reports over 6,000 suspected cases. Venezuela reports over 4,500 confirmed cases, however unofficial estimates are thought to be as high as 400,000.
An alert to the first confirmed case of Zika virus in Brazil was issued in May 2015 by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). As of 1 February, Zika has been confirmed in 23 countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean. The spread of the disease is likely to continue as the vector species, the Aedes mosquito, is widely distributed in the region.
On 1 February 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika a public health emergency, following a significant increase in the number of reported cases since the start of the year. The last time WHO declared a global health emergency was during the Ebola outbreak. The current Zika outbreak is unlikely to present a crisis of the same scale; the declaration has been issued to fast-track aid and further research, particularly due to a potential link with neurological disorders and congenital birth defects.
This report compares current humanitarian crises based on their level of humanitarian access. Affected populations in more than 40 countries are not getting proper humanitarian assistance due to access constraints. Out of 44 countries included in the report, nearly half of them are currently facing critical humanitarian access constraints, with four countries (Eritrea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen) being considered as inaccessible. Moderate humanitarian access constraints are an issue in eight countries, and 15 face low humanitarian access constraints.
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.
Humanitarian Overview 2018 examines major humanitarian crises worldwide to identify likely developments and corresponding needs. The report focuses on countries where the crisis trend indicates a deterioration in 2018 and a corresponding increase in need. It also includes countries where crisis is not predicted to worsen, but is likely to remain severe: Ethiopia, Iraq, Nigeria, Palestine, Sudan, and Syria. Across these countries, food security, displacement, health, and protection are expected
to be the most pressing humanitarian needs in 2018.
The Crisis Overview 2016: Humanitarian Trends and Risks for 2017, outlines the countries where needs are greatest, and growing, as we approach the end of 2016.
Based on our weekly Global Emergency Overview (GEO), and four years of data on humanitarian needs across 150 countries, we have identified ten countries where humanitarian needs are likely to be highest in 2017, as well as four that merit attention, as they face a potential spike in needs. We also consider the humanitarian situation in the northern triangle region of Latin America, where the wide-ranging humanitarian impact of pervasive gang violence is chronically underreported.