The number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela is expected to reach 6.5 million by the end of next year, according to the recently launched Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP).
To be on top of this daunting challenge, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Citi Foundation have launched a project to enhance the livelihoods of Venezuelans and host communities in Colombia and Perú.
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world.
The exodus of Venezuelan nationals is one of the largest external displacement crises in the world today. Around half of the 4.6 million people who have left Venezuela since 2015 – based on the latest figures of the Regional Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela – can be found in neighbouring Colombia and Perú.
Figures are projected to reach 2.4 million in Colombia and 978,000 in Perú next year. Many, in fact, are nationals of those two Andean countries, citizens of Colombia and Perú who spent years, even decades, living and working in neighbouring Venezuela.
A significant number of Venezuelans arrive with qualifications and skills to contribute to the economy of the hosting countries, but access to formal employment can often prove difficult.
“Citi is committed to being part of the solution to this humanitarian crisis”, said Alvaro Jaramillo of the Citi Foundation during the launch event. “We firmly believe—as an integrated partner in the communities where we live and work—that we have a shared responsibility to address the challenges we all face.”
The partnership will provide vocational training and certifications to more than 400 Venezuelan youth. The project also includes an incubator for mixed entrepreneurial ventures comprised of Venezuelans, Colombian returnees and host community members. IOM’s non-profit partner, USA for IOM, will host educational events in the US to further raise awareness on the issue.
“There needs to be much more attention on the magnitude of the crisis, as the outflow continues unabated and is growing by the day”, said Luca Dall’Oglio, CEO of USA for IOM. “This partnership offers a space for the private sector, humanitarian and development actors, civil society and international financial institutions to discuss support not only for emergency assistance but long-term needs like socioeconomic and cultural integration.”
Since 2015, Citi Foundation has granted IOM nearly $1.00 million toward efforts to help vulnerable adolescents and youth develop the necessary skills and competencies to increase income generation opportunities in digital ecosystems and improve their livelihoods.
The latest investment to support the economic integration of Venezuelans in Perú and Colombia doubles total contributions to almost $2.00 million.
IOM Colombia Chief of Mission, Ana Eugenia Durán Salvatierra, said “our collaboration with the Citi Foundation has served as a catalyst to inspire more engagement from the private sector over the past few years. Multi-stakeholder commitment is ever so critical as we now face the biggest population movement in Latin America’s recent history.”
The Citi Foundation invests in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyse job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. For more information, please see: www.citifoundation.com.