FILE – In this April 14, 2019 file photo, Venezuelans cross illegally into Colombia near the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, close to Cucuta, Colombia. (Fernando Vergara/AP Photo, File)

The federal government in collaboration with two humanitarian agencies working with refugees and migrants will host an international conference next month to raise funds for millions of Venezuelans who have fled their country since 2015.

The exodus of over 5.6 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants fleeing the country’s political turmoil and economic collapse has turned it into the world’s second-largest displacement crisis, further compounded by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 17, International Development Minister Karina Gould in collaboration with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will host a donor conference in the hopes of raising additional money to alleviate the refugee and migrant crisis.

The two organizations are co-leads of the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V), which coordinates the response to the needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, and their host communities in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Countries in the region continue to generously welcome Venezuelans, but their capacity and resources are reaching a breaking point,” Gould said in a media statement. “It is essential for the international community to respond with a clear show of solidarity to invest in long-term solutions for refugees and migrants, and their host communities.”

Venezuelan migrant women walk through a camp run by the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Maicao, Colombia May 7, 2019. Picture taken May 7, 2019. (Luisa Gonzalez/REUTERS)

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the pandemic has worsened the already desperate situation of millions Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Many have lost their sources of income and sometimes their homes, exposing them to destitution, exploitation, gender-based violence and other risks, Grandi said.

“With this International Donors’ Conference, we want to send a strong message that the world cares and will support them—and their generous hosts—in their greatest time of need,” Grandi said.

IMO head António Vitorino said it’s time for the international community to rally in support of the Venezuelan refugees and migrants.

“We call for greater commitment from the international community, not only to address the humanitarian needs, but also to foster new opportunities for millions of Venezuelans seeking a new life across the region,” Vitorino said.

Since 2019, Canada has committed $86 million in international assistance to respond to the Venezuela crisis. Canada is also part of the Group of Friends of the Quito Process to support countries responding to the exodus of refugees and migrants from Venezuela.

Source:  RCI