As of the end of 2019, there were an estimated 3.7 million people who had been forced to leave their homes in Venezuela, because of the social, political, and economic crisis in the country – about 1.7 million of them left for Colombia.
On 14 March 2020, the borders between Venezuela and Colombia closed, to contain the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown in Colombia left many migrants without income. Some were forced to return to Venezuela. Now the trend has again shifted with Venezuelans returning to Colombia in search of economic opportunities. The situation of Venezuelan communities in Colombia remains complex and challenging, especially for children and youth.
What are Destination Unknown members doing?
With support from the German Ministry of Cooperation (BMZ) and Destination Unknown member Terre des Hommes Germany, Fundación Creciendo Unidos recently launched a project to promote social integration and better protection for children and young people from Venezuela, currently living in Colombia (Bogotá and Cúcuta). The project also supports families in Venezuela to build and sustain their livelihoods.
Psychosocial support and legal advice
“I feel alone, I miss my father and my brother; I have not spoken with them for months because our phone broke, and all this is so difficult for me. At school, things are a little hard; sometimes I don't understand what the teachers try to explain to me. Now, with the pandemic, it's difficult for me to do my homework. I just want to be with my family again. For Christmas, I don’t want toys, I just want to be reunited with my family."
Maria* 11, from Venezuela, has been in Colombia with her mother. They had to leave the rest of the family behind when they moved. The project provides psychosocial and pedagogical care to support girls and boys on the move like Maria, and addresses factors increasing their vulnerability, including socio-economic challenges within the family environment and the risk of being targeted by criminal groups.
Strengthening participation of children and youth on the move
Clara*, 17 and her brother Fabio*, 16, left Venezuela with their mother on 21 December 2018, seeking safety and a better future in Colombia, reuniting with their father who had arrived 6 months before them. Although they were able to start school, they had also faced many challenges: including in accessing health care and in obtaining formal and legal documentation.
Fundación Creciendo Unidos organises workshops with young people on the move like Clara and Fabio, to address the risks and effects of labour exploitation, sexual exploitation, and other violations of their rights. The project provides creative and safe spaces for girls and boys affected by migration, as well as professional training and capacity-building activities for all children and youth in the communities they work with in Cúcuta and Bogotá.
*not their real names.