Venezuela Regional Crisis - Fact Sheet #1 FY19

Speeches Shim

March 01, 2019

USG pre-positions approximately 370 MT of humanitarian assistance on the Venezuelan border.

Security forces impede entrance of USG-provided humanitarian assistance into Venezuela.

U.S. Vice President Michael R. Pence announces nearly $56 million in USG humanitarian assistance in response to the Venezuela regional crisis.

Numbers At A Glance

3.4 million

Estimated Venezuelans Outside of Venezuela

5.3 million

Projected Number of Venezuelans Outside Venezuela by December 2019

3.6 million

Projected Number of Venezuelans Outside Venezuela and in Need of Assistance by December 2019

1.9 million

People in Colombia in Need of Assistance due to the Venezuela Regional Crisis

Humanitarian Funding

IN FY 2017–2018

USAID/OFDA $24,705,084
USAID/FFP $39,846,508
State/PRM $87,842,414
TOTAL $152,394,006


On January 23, the U.S. Government (USG) recognized National Assembly Leader Juan Guaidó as the interim President of Venezuela. On January 24, U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo announced that the United States was ready to provide more than $20 million to support humanitarian assistance activities in Venezuela, as soon as logistically possible.

In response to a request from interim President Guaidó to prepare for the transport of relief supplies into Venezuela on February 23, USAID and State/PRM pre-positioned approximately 370 metric tons (MT) of humanitarian assistance along the Colombia–Venezuela and Brazil–Venezuela borders. In mid-February, USAID Administrator Mark Green traveled to Colombia to observe the arrival of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) aircraft transporting USAID humanitarian assistance for pre-positioning.

On February 23, Venezuelan security forces impeded efforts by representatives of the interim Government of Venezuela (GoV) to transport the humanitarian assistance into Venezuela, resulting in clashes between supporters of the entrance of relief supplies and Venezuelan security forces and other armed groups. The clashes resulted in at least five deaths, hundreds of injuries, and the destruction of some relief supplies.

On February 25, Vice President Pence announced nearly $56 million in humanitarian assistance in response to the Venezuela regional crisis at a Lima Group meeting in Bogotá, Colombia. The assistance includes a $40.8 million State/PRM contribution to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support regional relief efforts, as well as $15 million in USAID funding for UN World Food Program (WFP) food assistance programs supporting Venezuelans in Colombia.

In February, USAID and State/PRM pre-positioned approximately 370 MT of humanitarian commodities along the Colombia–Venezuela and Brazil–Venezuela borders to support interim GoV efforts to transport humanitarian assistance into Venezuela on February 23, as requested by interim President Guaidó. Between February 16 and 22, commercial aircraft and five DoD aircraft transported USAID-provided humanitarian commodities—including food assistance, hygiene kits, medical supplies, and nutritional commodities—to Colombia’s San José de Cúcuta city, Norte de Santander Department, for pre-positioning in warehouses in the vicinity of Tienditas International Bridge. USAID also locally procured food kits, medical supplies, and hygiene kits in Colombia for pre-positioning. State/PRM staff deployed to Brazil to oversee the pre-positioning of 178 MT of locally procured food commodities in Brazil’s Boa Vista city, Roraima State, near the Brazil–Venezuela border.

From February 15–18, Administrator Green traveled to Colombia to observe the arrival of DoD aircraft transporting USAID humanitarian assistance on February 16, as well as accompany U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. Representative Mario Díaz-Balart, and U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States Carlos Trujillo to view USG-supported humanitarian programs near the Colombia–Venezuela border.

On February 23, USAID transferred ownership of relief supplies to interim GoV representatives in San José de Cúcuta, who attempted to transport the supplies across bridges from Norte de Santander into Venezuela’s Táchira State. However, Venezuela security forces—and reportedly informal armed militias acting under orders from disputed President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro—blocked trucks carrying the supplies from entering Venezuela, leading to clashes between supporters of the entrance of humanitarian assistance into the country and the Venezuelan security forces. During the confrontation, at least two trucks transporting USAID-provided humanitarian commodities across the Paula de Santander International Bridge caught fire, resulting in the damage and loss of humanitarian commodities.

On February 22 and 23, Venezuelan security forces also clashed with people advocating for the entrance of humanitarian assistance in areas along the Brazil–Venezuela border. On February 22, Venezuelan security forces opened fire on civilians attempting to impede soldiers from reaching the border, resulting in at least two deaths and 12 injuries. On February 23, confrontation between a local indigenous community and the Venezuelan National Guard ensued as the National Guard blocked two trucks carrying State/PRM-provided humanitarian commodities from northern Brazil from entering Venezuela. As of February 24, conflict continued and had resulted in at least four additional deaths.

On December 14, the IOM–UNHCR International Regional Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela released the Refugee and Migration Response Plan (RMRP), appealing for nearly $738 million to address the needs of approximately 2.2 million Venezuelans in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region during 2019. Approximately 45 percent of the funding appeal is for emergency assistance, including the provision of critical relief commodities and services by approximately 100 partner organizations. An additional 30 percent of the appeal focuses on cultural integration and socio-economic activities for Venezuelans in host countries, including voluntary relocation and programs to mitigate anti-migrant sentiments. The plan also prioritizes protection services—including child protection activities and legal documentation assistance—and efforts to strengthen host government response capacity. On February 25, Vice President Pence announced additional funding from State/PRM to support efforts encompassed in the RMRP, including $25.4 million to support UNHCR relief activities in at least 10 countries and $15.4 million to support IOM relief activities in at least 14 countries across the region.

Approximately 3.4 million Venezuelans were living outside the country as of mid-February, with the majority—an estimated 3 million people—living throughout LAC, according to IOM and UNHCR. An average of 5,000 people departed Venezuela per day during 2018, according to the UN agencies. Colombia has received the highest number of people from Venezuela to date, with nearly 1.2 million people estimated to be sheltering in Colombia as of mid-February. The RMRP estimates that at least 5.3 million people will have departed Venezuela for countries in the region by the end of 2019, with nearly 40 percent of this projected population—nearly 2.3 million people—residing in Colombia.

In late February, nearly 50 epidemiological specialists urged health care authorities to declare a region-wide public health emergency in response to the spread of infectious diseases—including Chagas disease, dengue virus, leishmaniasis, malaria, measles, and Zika virus—in LAC related to ongoing disease outbreaks in Venezuela. In Venezuela, health actors confirmed nearly 6,400 measles cases, including 76 deaths, between mid-2017 and the end of 2018, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). However, PAHO reports that the number of new confirmed measles cases in Venezuela has generally declined since June. In Brazil, PAHO recorded nearly 10,300 confirmed measles cases—the vast majority of which were connected to the ongoing measles outbreak in Venezuela—between February 2018 and mid-January. However, the number of new confirmed cases in Brazil’s Amazonas and Roraima states—accounting for 98 percent of confirmed cases—has been declining since August.

Since the beginning of the diphtheria outbreak in Venezuela in July 2016, health actors had recorded nearly 1,560 confirmed cases, including 270 deaths, as of mid-January, PAHO reports. In 2018, health authorities recorded 150 diphtheria-related deaths, representing a case fatality rate of 20 percent, approximately 7 percent higher than the case fatality rate recorded in 2017. In addition to the ongoing diphtheria outbreak, health authorities recorded more than 2,400 confirmed dengue cases in Venezuela in 2018, representing an increase from cases reported since 2016.

The USG continues to support partners throughout the LAC region to respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases related to the Venezuela regional crisis, including diphtheria, malaria, and measles. In FY 2018, USAID provided more than $10.7 million in funding for health care activities in response to the crisis, including support to strengthen the disease surveillance capacity of health systems overburdened by the influx of Venezuelans, conduct vaccination campaigns, and provide medicines to treat infectious diseases.

Relief actors—including USG partners—continue to expand relief operations in response to emerging food; shelter; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); and other needs among vulnerable Venezuelans in Brazil. In particular, State/PRM partner UNHCR continues to conduct protection activities in Brazil in coordination with Government of Brazil authorities, local partners, and UN agencies. In 2018, UNHCR legal assistance supported nearly 75,000 individuals throughout Brazil to obtain migration status documentation. In addition, UNHCR supports 13 temporary shelters with the capacity to accommodate more than 6,500 people in Roraima. On February 25, Vice President Pence announced $5.9 million in State/PRM support for ongoing IOM and UNHCR humanitarian assistance programs in Brazil.

With USAID/FFP support, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) continues to support Venezuelans sheltering in northern Brazil with food assistance. In January, ADRA provided food vouchers to more than 1,500 Venezuelans in Boa Vista.

On January 15, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) released the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) for Colombia, identifying 7 million people in need of assistance in Colombia, including 1.9 million Venezuelans, Colombian returnees, and host community members affected by the Venezuela regional crisis. The HNO also underscores that many people in need in Colombia are simultaneously impacted by internal conflict, natural disasters, and the Venezuela regional crisis.

On January 15, the Government of Colombia (GoC) closed a temporary camp which, at its peak, had hosted more than 500 Venezuelans in Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá’s Engativá locality. Venezuelans who departed the camp since mid-November found employment opportunities and alternative lodging in Bogotá, traveled to other countries, received GoC assistance to relocate to other locations in Colombia, or were deported to Venezuela for illegal activity in Colombia, according to local officials. Local authorities do not plan to establish additional temporary camps for Venezuelans in Bogotá. However, the GoC continues to establish locations in Bogotá for Venezuelans to access information on legal migration status options in Colombia and referrals to additional service providers, including the Integrated Migrant Attention Center, a GoC-managed transit center in Bogotá supported by several State/PRM partners. As of December, an estimated 283,000 Venezuelans were sheltering in Bogotá, nearly 60 percent of whom possessed regular migration status in Colombia, according to GoC authorities.

Relief organizations continue to operate shelters for vulnerable Venezuelans residing in the country. From October–December, with support from USAID/OFDA, IOM led 17 health events in Bogotá and nine departments of Colombia, reaching nearly 7,200 people. During the events, IOM provided primary health care and dental care, as well as mental health, nutrition, and reproductive health services to vulnerable populations, in coordination with municipal and departmental GoC health authorities and other relief actors. IOM provided an average of four health consultations per patient.

With FY 2018 support from USAID/FFP, WFP provided food assistance—including hot meals and food vouchers—to more than 290,000 people in Colombia affected by the Venezuela regional crisis. In FY 2019, USAID/FFP continues to support WFP to provide food assistance to vulnerable Venezuelans and Colombian returnees sheltering in Colombia, as well as host community members. On February 25, Vice President Pence announced $15 million in USAID/FFP support for ongoing WFP humanitarian food assistance programs in Colombia.

On February 25, Vice President Pence announced $11.9 million State/PRM support for ongoing IOM and UNHCR humanitarian assistance programs in Colombia.

More than 956,000 Venezuelans entered Ecuador in 2018, a majority of whom traveled onward to other countries, according to the Government of Ecuador (GoE). Additionally, authorities report that more than 61,000 Venezuelans entered the country between January and mid-February 2019. As of mid-February, nearly 240,000 Venezuelans were sheltering in Ecuador, according to GoE officials. The RMRP projects that at least 506,000 Venezuelans will be sheltering in Ecuador by December.

Following the killing of an Ecuadorian by a Venezuelan in Ecuador, the GoE announced on January 21 that Venezuelans seeking to enter the country would be required to present an official criminal record, likely resulting in a decrease in the number of Venezuelans eligible to enter Ecuador via formal border crossing points, according to relief actors and GoC authorities. The announcement may also increase the number of Venezuelans sheltering in transit cities throughout Colombia, as well as Venezuelans entering Ecuador through informal border crossing points. However, in early February, the GoE announced several exceptions to the policy, including individuals with close family ties to Ecuadorians, maintaining a valid Ecuadorian residency visa, or reporting plans to transit through Ecuador to other countries in the region. As of January 30, the previously announced restrictions had resulted in an estimated 1,200 Venezuelans sheltering on the Colombian side of the Colombia–Ecuador border; as of February 5, all of the individuals had entered Ecuador following the easing of the entrance requirements, according to international media.

On November 30, the GoE, IOM, and UNHCR released the Framework for the National Response to Venezuelan People on the Move in Ecuador, requesting approximately $550 million to respond to the needs of approximately 600,000 people—including approximately 300,000 Venezuelans and an additional 300,000 host community members affected by the crisis—in Ecuador from 2019–2021. Approximately $147 million, or nearly 30 percent, of the funding requirement will address health needs in Ecuador resulting from the regional crisis.

During late November, USAID and State/PRM representatives traveled to Ecuador to meet with GoE officials and international donors, evaluate the humanitarian situation, and discuss response priorities in the country. During the visit, GoE officials requested additional international support to meet the humanitarian needs of vulnerable populations in the country. The USG continues to evaluate options to respond to the humanitarian needs of vulnerable Venezuelans in Ecuador.

In December, with USAID/FFP support, the WFP assisted nearly 58,000 people—including vulnerable Venezuelans—in Ecuador. In FY 2018, USAID/FFP provided $7 million to WFP in Ecuador to support Venezuelans and other vulnerable populations with food assistance. Additionally, on February 25, Vice President Pence announced $5 million State/PRM support for ongoing IOM and UNHCR humanitarian assistance programs in Ecuador.

Peru continues to serve as a significant host country for Venezuelans, with 70 percent of Venezuelans who enter Peru deciding to remain in the country, IOM and UNHCR report. As of late January, more than 650,000 Venezuelans were sheltering in Peru, according to the UN agencies. The RMRP projects that the number of Venezuelans in the country will increase to approximately 1.4 million people by December.

From February 2017–December 2018, approximately 495,000 Venezuelans requested a temporary residence permit (PTP), a Government of Peru (GoP)-issued identity document that is valid for one year and allows the holder to obtain employment and access social services. Approximately 200,000 Venezuelans had received the cards as of early February. Venezuelans who arrived in Peru after the October 31 deadline to request a PTP may enter Peru on a tourist visa, which is valid for 183 days and does not grant permission to work. In addition, UNHCR estimates that 156,000 people—primarily Venezuelans—had applied for refugee status between 2015 and 2018. However, the application process for refugee status in Peru remains lengthy; pre-registration with the GoP Ministry of Foreign Affairs Special Commission for Refugees can take up to 10 months, and many employers remain unwilling to recognize documentation granting Venezuelans with refugee status the right to work legally in Peru, UNHCR reports.

In early December, IOM released results from Displacement Tracking Matrix surveys conducted from September–October at two GoP border control points, including the northern Tumbes Region border crossing with Ecuador and the southern Tacna border crossing with Chile. Surveyed Venezuelans—particularly those arriving at the Tumbes border crossing—exhibited significant humanitarian needs, with 45 percent of individuals reporting lack of regular access to food. The GoP and UN agencies are conducting further assessments to better understand humanitarian needs among Venezuelans in Peru.

On February 25, Vice President Pence announced $5.6 million in State/PRM support for ongoing IOM and UNHCR humanitarian assistance programs in Peru.

The effects of deteriorating economic conditions, including hyperinflation, continue to limit Venezuelan households’ access to basic commodities and services. Approximately 78 percent of the nearly 2,500 individuals surveyed during a September–December study conducted by the Pew Research Center reported the inability to purchase food for their families at times during 2018. Approximately 87 percent of individuals surveyed lacked sufficient money to purchase clothing during the year and 80 percent reported insufficient funds to pay for necessary health care services.

Availability of critical health care services continues to decline throughout Venezuela due to facility closures, failing infrastructure, insecurity, poor access to nutritious food, and staff protests, according to the 2018 Encuesta Nacional de Hospitales, which compiled data from 40 Venezuelan hospitals surveyed in mid-November. Nearly 70 percent of hospitals reported intermittent power outages and lack of safe drinking water. On average, facilities reported lacking approximately half of health care supplies required for emergency medical services, and one-third of hospital beds in the country remain out of service, according to the report. Additionally, nearly 50 percent of surveyed facilities reported recent robberies of hospital equipment hindering access to health care services.

On November 26, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) announced the allocation of more than $9.2 million in additional funding for IOM, the UN Population Fund, UNHCR, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the UN World Health Organization to provide multi-sector humanitarian assistance, including health, nutrition, protection, and WASH support, in Venezuela. The CERF allocation represents the first UN funding for emergency activities in Venezuela.

Between August and November, UNICEF delivered nearly 130 MT of health and nutrition supplies to Venezuelan health facilities, sufficient to meet the needs of 350,000 young children and pregnant and lactating women affected by the ongoing economic crisis, the UN agency reports. From January–November 2018, UNICEF administered 2.5 million measles vaccine doses in Venezuela, as well as antimalarial treatment for 150,000 children, through the UN agency’s expanded country program.

Deteriorating economic and political conditions—characterized by hyperinflation—in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela since 2014 have decreased households’ access to food, medicine, and health care; contributed to increasing humanitarian needs; and triggered an influx of Venezuelans into neighboring countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. More than 400,000 Venezuelans have applied for asylum globally since 2014.

The population influx has increased in the past years and is straining available services, especially in border areas of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Recent assessments indicate that food, health care, and WASH support are among the most urgent humanitarian needs of vulnerable populations, including Venezuelans, returnees, and host communities in border regions. The outflow of people from Venezuela is also contributing to increased public health concerns throughout the region, particularly with regard to the spread of infectious diseases.

In addition to supporting ongoing regional response activities, USAID and State/PRM staff based throughout the region and in Washington, D.C., are monitoring the humanitarian situation in close coordination with relevant host governments, donor governments, non-governmental organizations, and UN counterparts.

The most effective way people can assist relief efforts is by making cash contributions to humanitarian organizations that are conducting relief operations. A list of humanitarian organizations that are accepting cash donations for disaster responses around the world can be found at

USAID encourages cash donations because they allow aid professionals to procure the exact items needed (often in the affected region); reduce the burden on scarce resources (such as transportation routes, staff time, and warehouse space); can be transferred very quickly and without transportation costs; support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; and ensure culturally, dietarily, and environmentally appropriate assistance.

More information can be found at:

  • USAID Center for International Disaster Information: or +1.202.661.7710.
  • Information on relief activities of the humanitarian community can be found at