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Venezuelan children raise their voices and present their situation to the United Nations

29 October 2020
  • While one out every four Venezuelan children are separated from their parents, 20 per cent of migrant children travel unaccompanied (1).
  • Report reveals the increase of child marriages amid the economic crisis propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic (2).

Four adolescents will present the risks that children and young Venezuelan women face daily in and out of the country, to the members of the Security Council of the United Nations and to other governments. The virtual event will take place Monday, November 2, 9:00 am EST. The girls are engaged in projects promoted by international NGOs, Plan International and World Vision.

The event will bring forward the increased protection risks Venezuelan children and adolescents cope with during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also identify opportunities to support the growing humanitarian needs of vulnerable children. In less than five years, the situation in Venezuela has deteriorated so steeply, that the once wealthiest country in the Americas is now the poorest. This context has forced 5.5 million Venezuelans to flee the country searching for better life conditions. The majority of the migrants are in Latin America. It is estimated that 25 percent of the Venezuelans on the move are boys and girls, according to the UN (3).  

The economic and social crisis affects Venezuelan children. However, girls and especially children without nationality nor registration documents are increasingly becoming victims of violence, child labor, child marriage, sexual exploitation and adolescent pregnancy. 

World Vision will present during the event its report, “Double Edge Sword, the situation of Children in Venezuela during COVID-19”. The survey shows an increase in child marriages due to the crisis boosted by the pandemic. One out of each five respondents said that they have witnessed increased separation of children from their parents, because of worst economic conditions.

“I didn’t want to go because I didn’t want to leave the people I love the most… my grandmother, my sisters and my uncles,” explains Daniela, a 12-year-old migrant adolescent who lives in Colombia with her mother, in a different city than her younger brother. She has not seen her father for three years, since he migrated to Peru. 

Julieth, a 17-year-old adolescent mother, describes that “many people is distant, almost no one congratulated me when I graduated from high school and they constantly tell me that the worst I could do was becoming pregnant so young. The hardest for me is not having enough food on our table, not having (money) to provide for my baby’s needs”. 

The situation for Venezuelan girls and boys beyond their country is equally complicated. Child labor and the harassment and recruitment of children by organized crime and armed groups are additional risks children face. More than 20 percent of Venezuelan children travel unaccompanied by parents or relatives. The majority are adolescents.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Venezuelans face worst circumstances. Discrimination against migrant and refugee populations is increasing and, generally, they are subject to stigma if they contract the virus. House evictions and labor exploitation are consequences of this situation.

Listen to and empower girls and adolescents

Despite of the unprecedented magnitude of the Venezuelan crisis, humanitarian organizations lack 70 percent of the required resources to help more than 12 million affected people. Plan International and World Vision, two organizations that promote the wellbeing of children, and are collaborating in this emergency response, unite their efforts to raise the voice of children, adolescents and young women before international decision makers.

“The survival and opportunities of Venezuelan children, adolescents and youth is severely compromised. Their access to basic needs such as education, nutrition and protection is precarious, if not absent at all. The deterioration of livelihoods for households increases the exposure of children to abuse, child labor and sexual exploitation. Indifference is not an option. However, the response of the international community to the Venezuelan crisis is painfully timid. We are at the verge of witnessing the sad omen of a lost generation, as it happened in the eighties”, said Carmen Aurora Garcia, Country Manager of World Vision Venezuela. 

Veronique Henry, Country Director of Plan International in Peru, will participate as representative of civil society on Monday’s event. “We are in the face of an unprecedented crisis that could have grave repercussions for the region in the short and long term, if we don’t implement immediately consultation and response mechanisms to address it, with a differentiated approach per gender and age, and with the active participation of girls and adolescents”, she stated.

The event will be streamed live via FB on @WorldVisionLAC and @PlanAmericas you can also register and participate here:  https://worldvision.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUvcOyqqTkoGtJfA21lx4AosctqTv8_ipjH

KEY FIGURES OF THE VENEZUELAN MIGRANT AND REFUGEE CRISIS

  • 5.5 million people have left Venezuela. Approximately 25 per cent are girls, boys and adolescents. (R4V)
  • 7 million people require humanitarian assistance inside Venezuela (OCHA)
  • Teen pregnancies in Venezuela raised 65 per cent between 2015 and 2019 (Amnesty International)
  • 91 percent of boys and girls in Bogota, Colombia’s capital, don’t have a regular migratory status (Plan International)
  • 73 percent of Venezuelan households with children do not have enough food (World Vision) A third of surveyed households say they know at least a child engaged in child labor and begging. 49 percent says child labor is increasing (World Vision).
  • More than 130,000 Venezuelan refugees and migrants returned to their country amid the pandemic (Human Rights Watch)
  • Before the pandemic, 13 per cent of boys, girls and adolescents did not attend school in Venezuela, and 40 per cent goes, but not regularly. The key reasons to leave school are lack of access to water (23%), power shortages (17%), lack of food at home (16%), absence of teachers (18%) and lack of transportation means (7%) (Encovi)
  • 56 percent of Venezuelan children and adolescents are not registered in schools (World Bank) Fewer than 15 per cent of Venezuelan migrants in Ecuador has a regular migratory status. (World Bank)
  • 1 out of 4 households in Venezuela lack access to clean water (Encovi)