The theme of this edition of Humanitarian Exchange, co-edited with Alexánder Alegría-Lozada from Profamilia in Colombia, is the impact of the complex humanitarian emergency in Venezuela. Since 2016, the ongoing political and socioeconomic crisis has resulted in political instability, economic decline, deterioration of state structures and services and increases in corruption, crime and violence, undermining people’s livelihoods, health and security. More than 6 million people have left the country, almost 5 million of whom have moved to other countries in the region. More than 1.8 million have sought refuge in Colombia.
In the lead article, Feliciano Reyna Ganteaume explains how HumVenezuela, an independent platform developed by Venezuelan civil society organisations, is documenting and monitoring the complex humanitarian emergency in the country. Lucía Ramírez Bolívar reflects on the evolution of the Colombian state’s legal response to Venezuelan migration, while Lina Arroyave Velásquez exposes the plight of binational indigenous peoples on the Colombia–Venezuela border. Jorge González Caro argues that gender-based violence in Venezuela, made worse by the ongoing economic crisis and Covid-19, must be addressed as a humanitarian priority. Adriana Marcela Pérez-Rodríguez discusses data on gender-based violence affecting both Venezuelan migrants and Colombians, advocating that a feminist approach to migration management should be central to Colombian government decision-making. The specific issues and challenges affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) migrants are highlighted by Cindy Hawkins Rada, Daniel González-Pérez and Daniel Verástegui-Mejía.
Emily Cowlrick, Gabriela Christie and Alicia Pepe Vides reflect on how partnerships between international organisations and local actors are supporting Venezuelan migrants in Colombia to access information and support. Drawing on a recent case study from the Humanitarian Policy Group at ODI, Mariela Torrealba, Yorelis Acosta and Oliver Lough find little evidence that social media is serving as a ‘lifeline’ for Venezuelan caminantes (migrants travelling on foot) as it has in other displacement crises. Diego Prado, Esther Yaneth Garzon and Lina Camperos report on two cash transfer pilots in support of caminantes, and Elizabeth Tromans and Marcela Dajer Gómez analyse experience of integrating cash and protection responses. The edition ends with an article by Robert Muggah, Lycia Brasil and Mac Margolis, who make the case that climate change in Venezuela, and the government’s failure to address it, is set to worsen the displacement crisis.