Understanding the Context and Figures of Venezuelan and Returnees Migration Flow into Colombia

“At the beginning, migrants and returnees had needs related to humanitarian assistance […] As they settle, their needs focused on employment, decent housing, and access to public services. Needs that are similar to those expressed by Colombians.”

Since 2015, the pace of migrants outflow from Venezuela has been staggering. Hosting an estimated 1.5 million migrants and refugees, neighboring Colombia has become the first recipient of this exodus. The COVID-19 pandemic is adding to an already dire situation, disproportionally affecting vulnerable migrants, already facing problematic housing conditions, food deficit, lack of regular income, and xenophobia. Following the closure of the borders, international and domestic nonessential travel, the notorious economic impact on low-income communities forces affected Venezuelan migrants to seek opportunities outside of Colombia or travel back to Venezuela via irregular routes, or tronchas, when humanitarian corridors are not available. For any state, such an increase in the number of communities in critical need and population movement poses immense social, economic, and political challenges. Resilience to this migration shock requires a holistic, coordinated, and heavily resourced response by the national government and the international community. 

As an outreach partner of the program BetterTogether, Sayara International co-hosted, on April 29th 20202, the webinar “Context And Figures of Venezuelan and Returnees Migration Flow Into Colombia” along with USAID, IDB, and WeConnect. 

Sayara brought together two Colombian researchers to respond to questions from a wide audience of civil society organizations, NGOs, and cooperation agencies – a virtual gathering of nearly 600 people from around the world logged-in to participate.

The discussion focused on migrants and returnees’ most urgent needs, the overall humanitarian response, and issues specific to women and the LGBTQ+ community. The panel also covered longer-term social issues related to social integration and access to public services. 

Participants were able to access to data for better understanding of the migratory flow from Venezuela to the Colombian territory, key sources of information,  national and regional response by donors, NGOs, and national government entities, articulations between stakeholders, social and dynamic context on the border of La Guajira and Norte de Santander and settlements in the interior of the Colombian territory (Coffee Triangle, Bogotá, and Medellín), as well as challenges, opportunities, and perceptions of local communities impacted by the crisis.


Watch the webinar in Spanish!