At present, almost one million Venezuelans have crossed the border. The city of Cúcuta and the Metropolitan Area were not prepared to receive this massive migration of people. Many refugees have transited into other Colombian cities or other countries of the Southern Cone. Others, so-called swinging or pendulum citizens, enter and leave on the same day. Some people join other family members overcrowding homes, thus increasing these family’s vulnerability and social problems. The rest, which is the vast majority have increased the high levels of unemployment and informal jobs in the city. The increase in informal Venezuelan workers has pushed Cucuta’s unemployment rate to 16% compared with the 9% rate nationwide. Although Colombians have welcomed their Venezuelan neighbors, signs of resentment among jobless local residents is growing.
Refugees live from day to day, many asking for donations, doing stunts in the streets, or engaged in informal commerce to obtain some Colombian pesos. This situation has resulted in an increase in drugs dealing, prostitution, and insecurity that swarms in all the streets of the city.
Shelter and Basic Sanitation
Venezuelans arriving in Cúcuta are hungry, sick and in despair. While it is true that there is a Migration Center financed with government resources, there is not enough space for everyone. The center’s low capacity forces people to sleep in parks, atriums of temples, slums, and inhospitable spaces areas where they don’t have access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or running water.
One of the most challenging elements to address is health, as sanitary epidemics have become dangerous. Hospitals and clinics receiving large numbers of people who are not registered in the Colombian social security system. The Colombian Red Cross, the Integral Health System, the Erasmo Meoz Hospital and other entities are unable to cope with all the situations. In this regard, the Secretary-General of the OAS clearly stated that «denying humanitarian assistance to Venezuela is criminal conduct but granting it reactively and without proper planning, may be an irresponsible act of Colombia.» Under these circumstances, the Colombian national government issued a decree in May 2018, and is now taking charge of the costs of the civilians arriving at the Erasmo Meoz Hospital.
Affiliation to the health system Chronic diseases
The most important challenge in this emergency humanitarian crisis is food. Local faith organizations have taken the lead in the emergency response to this humanitarian crisis. These organizations are providing hot-meals once a day, six times a week, through the local aid distribution aid centers. The International Rescue Committee IRC has already provided nearly $64,000 in cash assistance benefiting hundreds of people. IRC will continue to distribute cash cards to empower people to freely select goods and services according to their needs and preferences.
However, as the number of refugees increases, so does the need for more food supply. The UN World Food Program (WFP) initiated a food aid program consisting of a food voucher in the form of a monthly electronic transfer to families worth Colombian Pesos 96,000 per person (currency exchange USD$ 1.00 = Colombian Pesos 2,898.55). However, the WFP suspended the public distribution of vouchers. WPF continues the voucher program to selected families through some of the aid distribution center in a more discrete manner.
Metropolitan Cucuta’s school system is bursting at the seams with migrant kids, who are given six-month renewable passes to attend school. According to Eduardo Berbesi, principal of the 1,400-student Frontera Educational Institute, a public K-12 school in Villa de Rosario located a short distance from the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, he has funds to give lunches to only 60% of his students. However, the Colombian government is not providing the money to cover for the school’s 40% growth in enrollment since the crisis began in 2015. Another point to highlight is that of the 118,709 minors in irregular condition, only 33,107are attending school.
Posted 4 weeks ago by Cristal Montanez