The current political crisis* is the latest development in a displacement crisis which has been intensifying since 2014 and has so far led to more than 3 million Venezuelans fleeing their country.
According to the UN, that number is expected to rise to more than 5 million by the end of 2019.
Girls at risk of exploitation
Plan International is particularly worried about the hundreds of thousands of girls and young women who are among the displaced peoples, as we know they face particular risks due to their age and gender – and often become easy targets of violations of their rights such as sexual violence and exploitation.
“Upholding the rights of forcibly displaced girls and young women is our priority,” said Debora Cobar, Regional Director of Plan International Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Forced migration places children and young people, particularly girls and young women, at heightened risk of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect at all stages of displacement as protective structures, networks and systems break down.”
Our teams are responding
Plan International has established a dedicated regional response to the crisis, targeting 175,000 migrants and members of the host populations in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.
The organisation is committed to ensuring that children and adolescents, particularly girls, are protected by appropriate prevention and response interventions from any form of abuse.
It is also committed to promoting access to quality and inclusive learning and viable livelihoods opportunities for children and adolescents at risk or survivors of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
*On 23 January, Juan Guaidó, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition, declared himself the interim president of Venezuela following the inauguration of the incumbent Nicolas Maduro earlier in the month. Guaidó was also recognised as the country’s legitimate president by the US, Canada and number of South American countries, including Brazil, Colombia and Peru.
This led to clashes between supporters of the two leaders. At least 13 people have been killed in related gunfire, according to the rights group the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflicts.