Today we commemorate International Migrants Day, a date that reminds us of the importance of migration for the humanity’s growth and development. It is also a chance to reflect on the challenges faced by 272 million people in the world, that migrate everyday looking for better opportunities and conditions for their families.
We are at the end of a decade in which the number of international migrants is growing faster than the global population. During the last few years, the Americas has witnessed the aggravation of 2 of the biggest crises of the history: the Venezuelan exodus and the forced displacement in the North Triangle (Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador).
In 2017, almost 10% of the population in Central-America abandoned their countries. Around 4.5 million Venezuelans have migrated to date, looking for new opportunities. As the crisis continues, the conditions inside home and host countries aggravate, resulting in the detriment of living conditions and human rights.
The situation for girls, boys and adolescents is ever more critical. In Venezuela, it is estimated that over 900,000 children and adolescents have been separated from their parents due to the crisis. Girls and women are particularly vulnerable. They are denied access to basic services and are more exposed to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation as consequence of damaging social norms and gender inequality.
Plan International recognises the urgency of working with partners across the region to address the immediate humanitarian needs of the migrants, to ensure their socio-economic integration and to foster the long-term development of host communities.
Since 2018, we have implemented a regional response in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador focused mainly on delivering services and support concerning protection, education, economic empowerment, participation and social cohesion for Venezuelans, settled and in transit, and host populations. In 2019, actions inside Venezuela were undertaken, through 3 local partners, focused on Education in Emergencies (EiE) and Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH).
Meanwhile, the offices from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are addressing the needs of migrants and displaced persons, segregated by gender and age, through projects focusing on protection, food security, education and sexual and reproductive health rights. A new regional strategy, including these 3 countries and Mexico is being implemented that focusses on strengthening services and building the capacity of existing child protection services for girls, boys and adolescents in transit, with a particular focus on those in migration and return situations.
Guaranteeing the protection and rights of the migrants, mainly girls and female adolescents, requires the joint work and engagement from the governments and the international civil society. Migration is an opportunity to strengthen cultural links and solidarity, to promote economic growth and the dynamism in the region. For this reason, Plan International invites you today, December 18th, to reflect on how we can support the thousands of migrants in our countries and to seize this opportunity to promote the development of our region.