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The political crisis in Venezuela has caused the forced displacement of more than 4 million people or up to 20% of the country’s total population. The Jesuit Migration Network (RJM), the Jesuit Service to Migrants and Refugees (SJMR) Brazil and the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Latin America are providing humanitarian assistance to families displaced within Venezuela itself, and to those who have taken refuge in Colombia and Brazil. The Jesuit teams do so with compassion and dedication as they try to reach the most vulnerable migrants. They hope to alleviate suffering and mitigate the effects of the crisis by providing food, essential household items, lodging, transportation, legal and spiritual advice, healthcare (especially to children needing vaccinations and to pregnant women) and other emergency services based on need.
The millions of people who have been forcibly displaced are also victims of the growing xenophobia against migrants by local populations. To counteract discrimination, fear and prejudice, JRS, RJM and SJMR work with local communities to disseminate accurate information about the plight of displaced people from Venezuela and conduct educational and advocacy campaigns for both local and displaced people on migrant rights and the promotion of a culture of hospitality.
The spread of COVID-19 is aggravating the situation of those served. Inequality is increasing, with greater vulnerability and lack of access to rights for most. Migration patterns are shifting, especially at the border with Colombia. There is a marked change in the flow and migration of people, with an increase in entire families – including children and older adults – leaving their homes to seek refuge. With COVID-19, there are mobility restrictions and security measures that have adversely affected delivery of food and medicine, promotion of proper hygiene and provision of shelter, with much of the care now being offered remotely.
Other CJI-supported projects in LATin america
• Colombia – Jesuit Refugee Service
Support for forcibly displaced people
• Ecuador – Fundación Rio Manta
Community kitchen for children and elderly people
• Jamaica – St Anne’s and Holy Name Parish
Support to students living in poverty
• Latin America – COMPARTE
Sustainable livelihood and production
• Mexico – A.C. Indigenous Rights Centre (CEDIAC)
Conflict Resolution from the Tseltal Normative System
• Mexico – Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas
Formation of Human rights promoters
• Pan-Amazon Region – Fe y Alegría and Jesuit Service for the Pan-Amazon Region (SJPAM)
Intercultural and bilingual education