How we support Venezuelan children seeking refuge in Colombia
March 9, 2019
Our Venezuelan Response
The Colombian capital Bogotá has welcomed the most refugees from Venezuela. While makeshift camps offer temporary shelter, threats to children’s safety and wellbeing still remain. Many of the Venezuelan refugees in Bogotá are denied humanitarian aid and access to basic health services. Their rights are neglected on a daily basis.
Today will see War Child’s Venezuelan Response commence in Colombia. The programme sets out to offer vital protection and psychosocial support for young refugees - and also provide aid to meet their basic needs.
In Bogotá’s first migrant camps, women and children are at risk of sexual abuse, physical violence and human trafficking. Fearing discrimination and eviction, victims are often reluctant to report incidents. War Child will work to raise awareness among women and children about the dangers they face and their fundamental rights.
We have been working in Colombia since 2006
Photo: War Child
By involving children in sports, games and movement activities we help them come to terms with these feelings and build their resilience
Photo: War Child
Seeing their homes and lives upended, refugee children often experience intense feelings of fear, anger and sadness. By involving them in sports, games and movement activities we help them come to terms with these feelings and build their resilience. This ultimately provides children with emotional support and a much-needed sense of stability.
Refugee families from Venezuela often lack access to education, health care and basic supplies. Crime and disease is rife in overcrowded camps, and ‘opportunities scarce’, as the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR) reports. By helping young people find jobs and make a living, War Child aims to reduce stress and make their transition to a new life easier.
A political game
Although we are not active in Venezuela, War Child continues to support Venezuelan refugees in neighbouring Colombia. International humanitarian aid in the country has been refused by the government - who claim it has been used as a ‘political weapon’. Our Managing Director, Tjipke Bergsma, recently shared his concerns on the topic with Dutch newspaper Trouw. He argues that local aid workers may be at risk if foreign aid is misinterpreted as a political instrument. Read the full article (in Dutch) here.