Venezuela / Colombia

Mar 03, 2020

Deteriorating economic and political conditions—characterized by hyperinflation—in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela since 2014 have decreased households’ access to food, medicine, and health care; contributed to increasing humanitarian needs; and triggered an influx of Venezuelans into neighboring countries, primarily to Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. By February 2020, more than 4.8 million Venezuelans were living outside of Venezuela.1

The population influx has increased in the past years and is straining available services, especially in border areas of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Recent assessments indicate that food, health care, and WASH support are among the most urgent humanitarian needs of vulnerable populations, including Venezuelans, returnees, and host communities in border regions. The outflow of people from Venezuela is also contributing to increased public health concerns throughout the region, particularly with regard to overburdened health care systems and the spread of infectious diseases.1

Focusing on the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs of Venezuelan migrants, unplanned pregnancies—particularly adolescent pregnancy—and an increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have severely affected women and girls in Venezuela. Most pregnant women and adolescent girls are not able to access any antenatal care or delivery services. Many come to Colombia just for antenatal care and then may even return on the same day.2

Inside Venezuela, family planning services have been unavailable for about five years with the cost of contraceptives increasing by 25 times. Transactional sex as a coping mechanism for women, girls, and individuals of other sexual and gender identities begins even in Venezuela for many, furthering increasing protection risks and SRH needs. Venezuela is the only country where many who were previously on antiretroviral treatment, no longer have access to antiretroviral medication.2

In Colombia, SRH services are available but extremely limited. While humanitarian organizations are providing some life-saving services in line with the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for SRH in Crisis-Settings. However, with the tremendous scale of the SRH needs, weak local coordination mechanisms on SRH, and lack of integration with HIV and gender-based violence programming, those with intersecting vulnerabilities—such as pregnant adolescents, LGBTQIA+ populations, and persons with disabilities—are likely falling through the cracks, particularly in more remote informal settlements.2