Assessing the education and employment risk factors and opportunities for the inclusion of Venezuelan refugees in Latin America
The Venezuelan exodus is the biggest migration challenge facing Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and the second largest migration worldwide, surpassed only by the Syrian refugee crisis (World Bank, 2019). Most of the 4 million people who have fled did so through the Colombian border, with 2.4 million settling predominantly in Bogota, Medellin, Cucuta, Cali and Barranquilla.
According to data from Migración Colombia, only 13.4% of refugees in 2022 had regularized migration status. Moreover, a significant number lack the documentation to validate their educational degrees and skills. These factors, among others, put their socio-economic integration at risk by confining many to informal employment and limiting their access to key services like education. In Barranquilla, for example, 81.2% of surveyed refugees reported working in professions unrelated to their pre-existing training because of the inability to validate school credentials. Furthermore, 70.9% reported challenges in accessing educational opportunities, with 65% of mothers reporting their children are out of school (Proyecto Migración Venezuela, 2019).
It is critical to acknowledge the pressures of these migration flows on territories like Cucuta, Cali and Barranquilla, which face pre-existing vulnerabilities like high unemployment, poverty, gender-based violence, and insecurity. It is also crucial to ensure that strategies benefit all residents of these territories. While gender-differentiated and compounded challenges exist that affect the successful integration of refugee populations within and across territories in the region, there are also opportunities to enhance and scale existing local strategies that protect and support them. This project proposes to gather and synthesize evidence that can help inform policy change processes first in Colombia, and over time, across other host countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.