A mother and her six children wait in a room
Part two: Inter-Agency Coordinated Appeals

Latin America and the Caribbean

Tukuko, Venezuela

Yukpa mothers wait for a nutritional screening by the Venezuelan Red Cross. The Yukpa indigenous people belong to a binational tribe that lives on both sides of the Venezuelan and Colombian border and number nearly 10,000. The Venezuelan Red Cross is an implementing partner of UNHCR projects in the region. OCHA/Gemma Cortés

Latin America and the Caribbean has long been afflicted by multiple humanitarian challenges including recurring natural disasters, grinding poverty, extreme violence, chronic and acute food insecurity, and widespread displacement. These challenges provided a foothold for the COVID-19 pandemic in the region, which became the global epicentre of the disease for much of 2020. The crippling multidimensional social and humanitarian consequences will be felt for years, if not decades.

Independent of the pandemic, the region’s well-documented climate vulnerabilities were exposed to historic impacts throughout 2020. In May, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was forecast to produce 15 to 19 named storms. However, it shattered records with 30 named storms so far and is now the most active hurricane season ever. November alone saw Category 4 storms Eta and Iota strike Central America in quick succession, affecting more than 4.5 million people following widespread flooding across a nine-country span between south-east Mexico and north Colombia. This increase is partly due to the La Niña climate pattern, which increases the number of storms in the Atlantic basin and leaves South America with intense drought and high heat. This triggers record temperatures and raging wildfires in parts of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay that have claimed millions of hectares.

These recurring climate shocks, which include seasonal drought in Central America and the Caribbean and flooding in South America’s many rivers, contribute to a challenging set of linked needs. Food insecurity grew from 22.9 per cent in 2014 to 31.7 per cent in 2019, which represents 205.3 million people in moderate or severe food insecurity. This is the world’s fastest such increase due to persisting food insecurity in Central America, especially in the Northern Countries of Central America (NCA), i.e. El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and rising food insecurity in South America. The number of Haitians facing severe acute food insecurity has increased from 2.6 million (2019) to 3.1 million people (2020) in rural areas. Of those people, 1.2 million are facing emergency levels of hunger. An IPC analysis carried out in August 2020 projects that from March to June 2021, 4.4 million people (46 per cent of the analysed population) will need humanitarian assistance.

In addition to food insecurity, the NCA also feature chronic violence, inequality, weakened institutions and sociopolitical volatility that continue to drive mass displacement within borders. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre cites more than 940,000 violence-related IDPs collectively within the NCA and across borders. COVID-19 confinement measures and border closures led to welcome decreases in violence and displacement, but these indicators are trending towards pre-pandemic levels following border openings and the lifting of confinement measures. The United States Customs and Border Protection notes that September 2020 apprehensions at the US-Mexico border had already surpassed September figures dating back to 2015, indicating renewed movement from the NCA towards the United States.

Graphic

Latin America and the Caribbean: Overview of appeals (2021)

In South America, the pandemic dried up informal economies, decreasing livelihoods and food access and increasing protection risks. It also triggered a reverse flow back to Venezuela that has seen thousands of people return to their home country. They often cross the border irregularly, with greater needs and fewer assistance options amid host and transit countries’ overburdened services, both for their own populations and for the more than 4 million Venezuelans across South American host countries. Despite significant institutional efforts and a coordinated approach to the pandemic, humanitarian needs remain in certain parts of Colombia, resulting from armed conflict, natural disasters and the influx of mixed-migration flows from Venezuela.

The region’s extant vulnerabilities, both before and during the pandemic, are further complicated by cycles of social upheaval. Countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru have witnessed mass protests and violence over COVID-19 lockdown measures; perceived Government negligence or allegations of corruption in COVID-19 response; electoral tensions; and inequality and unpopular reform. Protests have led to rights abuses, scores of injuries and, in some cases, deaths.

Graphic

Evolution of People in Need (2020 vs. 2021)

2021 will undoubtedly require an even greater concentration of adaptable humanitarian response efforts given the long-term effects of the pandemic on the various crises in the region. The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean forecasts that 231 million of the region’s 656 million inhabitants will be in poverty at the start of 2021 — poverty levels not seen since 2005. The widespread impact of depressed economies will lead to further migration, food insecurity, and health and protection concerns amid high vulnerabilities to natural hazards, strained Government safety nets and potential aggravations to deep-seated sociopolitical tensions.

Colombia

HRP
People in need
6.7 million
People targeted
1.5 million
Requirements (US$)
300 million
Total population
50.9 million
Income level
Upper middle income
INFORM Severity Index
4.2 / Very High
Consecutive appeals
2020 – 2021
People reached (2020)
1.2 million

Analysis of the context, crisis and needs

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the most vulnerable populations in Colombia, aggravating the impact of violence and poverty dynamics, natural disasters and large mixed-migration movements. As a result, the number of people in need increased from 5.1 million in 2019 to 6.7 million by the end of 2020.

More than 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and over 34,500 deaths were reported by November . Although strict Government measures and response efforts have successfully mitigated the pressure on the health system, they could not entirely prevent the spread of the disease and had negative socioeconomic consequences. The unemployment rate has increased by 55 per cent, further increasing monetary and extreme poverty in the country. Despite national authorities' rapidly increasing social safety-net programmes, food insecurity has increased significantly; an estimated 3.5 million Colombians are severely food insecure and require urgent, life-saving assistance.

Maternal mortality rates and those of children under age 5 have increased in some areas, and the closing of educational facilities due to COVID-19 left 10 million children, including refugee and migrant children, out of school for half a year. This will have a lasting impact on youth. Women and girls have been disproportionally affected by food insecurity and loss of employment, among others.

Despite the 2016 Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict, which brought a period of relief unseen in decades, IEDs, displacement, general attacks against the population and civil infrastructure occur regularly in parts of the country. In some areas, illegal armed groups took advantage of the pandemic-related situation to expand their territorial presence, which has led to hostilities and increased control over communities. In the second half of the year, the country witnessed an uptick in violence and killings, forced confinement, access restrictions, GBV and explosive hazard contamination, aggravating protection needs. Concerns regarding a continued high level of recruitment and use of children by armed groups remain. Children, youth and women, as well as Afro-Colombians and indigenous communities, have been disproportionally affected.

Projected situation in 2021 and beyond

The humanitarian situation in the country is expected to remain critical during 2021. With the persistence of rural poverty, inequality, land disputes and the widespread presence of illicit crops, armed violence is bound to persist in the country. Protection risks are thus expected to remain severe in the areas with presence and under influence or partial control of armed groups.

Graphic

Evolution of needs and requirements (2020 - 2021)

The pandemic will continue to represent a risk. Unless a vaccine is made available to the most vulnerable and rural populations, the risk of contagion in many municipalities without sufficient prevention and response capacities, and often access, remain high. Reduced global commodity prices of Colombia’s key exports as well as the severe impact on critical sectors such as tourism are likely to delay economic recovery and impact food security. Reduced humanitarian funding and exceeded operational and budgetary capacity of local administrations risks limiting response capacity.

Response priorities in 2021

As of November, humanitarian actors have complemented the Government’s response by providing assistance to over 1.2 million people. Of these, 940,000 people across the country received assistance related to the impact of COVID-19, with a particular focus on GBV survivors. Some 600,000 of the most vulnerable Colombians affected by armed violence and natural disasters – particularly indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities – also received life-saving assistance through the Humanitarian Response Plan in the departments of Chocó, Nariño, Norte de Santander and Cauca, among others.

However, UN agencies and their partners continue to face access restrictions and are experiencing obstructions and direct threats from armed groups. At least 242 attacks against medical missions and health workers were registered during the first nine months of 2020, representing a 63 per cent increase in comparison to the previous year. Limited funding for the COVID-19 Plan and the HRP have also hampered response efforts.

In 2021, the humanitarian response in Colombia will focus on communities in remote rural areas where morbidity/mortality rates are high, hostilities persist, coping capacities are insufficient and the impact of natural disasters, mixed-migration inflows and the pandemic are disproportionally severe. Humanitarian actors will aim to provide more integrated multisectoral response, protect and save lives through humanitarian assistance and protection, and contribute to lasting solutions using a protection, gender and differential approach. They will further engage in prevention and disaster preparedness measures and more effectively complement the Government's own response. Enhancing rapid response mechanisms across the most affected territories will also be a priority.

Further reading

Haiti

HRP
People in need
4.4 million
People targeted
1.5 million
Requirements (US$)
235.6 million
Total population
11.4 million
Income level
Low income
INFORM Severity Index
3.5 / High
Consecutive appeals
2010 – 2021
People reached (2020)
1.4 million

Analysis of the context, crisis and needs

Haiti has faced recurring sociopolitical and economic challenges for several decades. These challenges are mostly based on deep-rooted structural issues, and the country remains highly prone to natural hazards and the effects of climate change. In 2020, Haiti suffered further from the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of confirmed cases and fatalities remains relatively low compared to other countries in the region, but the secondary consequences have impacted access to essential services and increased the risk of violence and stigmatization.

The country’s economic situation further deteriorated in 2020, closely linked to the value of the local currency and the consequences of the pandemic. Economic growth is expected to decline by 3.1 per cent in 2020 as the service sector contracts and supply chains are disrupted, as the global economy heads into recession. The fiscal deficit is expected to widen to over 6% of GDP (from a pre-COVID-19 forecast of 3%) and inflation is expected to reach over 20%.

An upsurge in gang violence has displaced hundreds of families. In late August, Tropical Storm Laura caused flooding in several departments, directly affecting around 8,800 families. The decrease of the overall PIN from 4.6 to 4.4 million is mostly linked to the fact that more than 1 million people facing food insecurity in 2020 have been assisted. Food insecurity, health, education, access to water and protection were the most affected sectors in 2020. This was due to adverse climatic, economic and political conditions, access constraints due to the pandemic and heightened insecurity. The IPC analysis conducted in August 2020 estimated that 4 million people are currently affected by acute food insecurity (phases 3 and 4).

Projected situation in 2021 and beyond

The humanitarian landscape in Haiti in 2021 will largely depend on the evolution of the country's political and socioeconomic situation, which could further affect access to essential services and impact the most vulnerable people. The risk of violence due to legislative elections next year must be accounted for. Gang violence, corruption, impunity, poverty, gender inequality, limited access to basic services and severe depletion of natural resources will remain at the root of recurring political and socioeconomic crises. Moreover, any sudden-onset emergency (hurricane, earthquake) or climate-related impact (e.g. drought) will represent a threat to Haiti’s recovery efforts.

Graphic

Evolution of needs and requirements (2016 - 2021)

In 2021, around 4.4 million people will need humanitarian assistance. Pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities, displaced people and those in rural areas are likely to suffer from increasingly difficult living conditions. The changes and their associated effects on people are expected to last beyond 2021, as trends show continued high levels of food insecurity, violence and displacement. The HRP will be revised accordingly for 2022.

Response priorities in 2021

In 2020, an estimated 1.4 million people received humanitarian assistance – 61 per cent of the targeted population. Food security assistance has enabled people to maintain their livelihoods. The health impact of the pandemic has been largely contained due to the joint efforts of all partners in supporting the Haitian authorities. Despite many difficulties, thousands of people continued to benefit from essential services even though access was limited.

Insecurity, poor road conditions, and logistical and COVID-19-related constraints hampered physical access to affected populations. Pre-existing coordination challenges were further compounded by the inability of partners and stakeholders to meet in person, and frequent electricity and network interruptions.

Around 1.5 million people of the 4.4 million who need humanitarian assistance will be targeted in 2021. This number includes all people in IPC phase 4 and the most vulnerable populations in 65 (out of 140) communes prioritized in the HRP.

The HCT has identified four strategic orientations for the response over the next two years:

  1. Reduce acute vulnerabilities and strengthen resilience through joint efforts of humanitarian and development actors, considering the structural nature of humanitarian needs in Haiti.

  2. Increase people’s capacity to meet their basic needs through strengthening access to basic services, improving food security, and decreasing mortality and morbidity due to preventable diseases.

  3. Enhance accountability to affected populations, particularly to the most vulnerable groups, by strengthening their access to protection services, engaging them in all phases of the response and increasing their self-reliance.

  4. Strengthen emergency preparedness and response to restore access to services and autonomy following a disaster, and to contribute to the empowerment of institutions and civil society.

Acute vulnerabilities have increased over the past few years due to a combination of sociopolitical crises and shocks. Despite this, financial requirements have slightly decreased compared to those established in 2019. This is mainly due to the commitment to better prioritize humanitarian interventions, and to strengthen the partnership with development actors within the nexus framework.

Further reading

Venezuela

HRP
People in need
7 million
People targeted
4.5 million
Requirements (US$)
762.5 million
Total population
28.7 million
Income level
Upper middle income
INFORM Severity Index
4.1 / Very High
Consecutive appeals
2019 – 2021
People reached (2020)
4.0 million

Analysis of the context, crisis and needs

Seven consecutive years of economic contraction, episodes of hyperinflation, political polarization and institutional challenges have been key drivers of humanitarian needs in Venezuela. The economy is estimated to have contracted by 74 per cent since 2013, leading to decreased public spending and impacting the provision of essential services. People’s incomes, savings and purchasing power have also been severely affected.

At the start of 2020, the humanitarian situation appeared to be stabilizing. A series of liberalizing economic measures gave respite to the economy and helped rein-in inflation. Increasing remittances provided a lifeline for many and humanitarian response contributed to addressing some of the most acute needs. This trend has been reversed by COVID-19 and compounded by rising costs of food and essential non-food items, declining remittances and lower global oil prices. Hardship for vulnerable people has increased and new needs have emerged.

Food security and nutrition remain a key concern. In 2019, a WFP assessment estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans to be severely food insecure and an additional 7 million moderately food insecure. The rate of undernourishment has increased from 2.5 per cent in 2010-2012 to 31.4 per cent in 2017-2019. According to Government data, severe acute malnutrition rates among children under 5 were 4 per cent in 2019, with an additional 10 per cent at risk.

After the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed, the authorities quickly implemented rigorous social quarantine measures, which slowed down the spread of the virus. After a peak in September, the number of cases has stabilized and is managed within existing capacity and humanitarian support. Limited access to safe water, hygiene and PPE and low PCR testing capacity remain a challenge despite recent improvements.

Prior to the pandemic, the Venezuelan health system was already under strain. Important gains made last year to control communicable diseases like malaria and measles are at risk as epidemiological surveillance and vaccinations have been challenging due to COVID-19. Patients are at risk as health facilities continue to struggle with ensuring adequate water supply and sanitation services. As resources are re-assigned to COVID-19 response, other essential health services have been impacted.

The education system also remains affected with an estimated 850,000 children having dropped out of school in 2019, and a similar number at risk of dropping out. School closures, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, have affected 6.8 million students.

Violence, including gender-based violence, has increased during the lockdown as some people have been confined in situations of domestic violence. Children and adolescents have been particularly affected, facing protection risks and high levels of stress and anxiety, with limited mental health and psychosocial support services available.

Around 130,000 Venezuelan migrants have returned from neighboring countries since mid-March - most due to losing their livelihoods in the context of COVID-19. Returnees need to quarantine in Government-run temporary shelters, many of which require support in providing adequate shelter and basic services. An increasing number of Venezuelans have been crossing into neighboring countries through irregular routes since the easing of quarantine measures in the region. Migrants face high protection risks and have reported blackmail and extortion along these routes.

Projected situation in 2021 and beyond

The humanitarian situation in Venezuela is expected to continue throughout 2021 as the impact of COVID-19 persists. The country’s GDP is expected to have contracted by 26 per cent in 2020, likely resulting in increased poverty rates and further reduction in essential services. Food security and nutrition are expected to remain a key issue due to decreased purchasing power, as well local food production challenges.

Graphic

Evolution of needs and requirements (2019 - 2021)

A pattern of mixed migration flows is likely to continue with more Venezuelans returning and leaving the country in 2021. If borders remain closed, people will continue using irregular routes and be exposed to protection risks including a heightened risk of trafficking, sexual violence and exploitation, especially for women and children.

Response priorities in 2021

Between January and September 2020, humanitarian partners reached an estimated 3.7 million people with some form of assistance – although this does not mean all their humanitarian needs were covered. This includes some 2.4 million people that have received COVID-19 related support, mostly in health, WASH, protection and education.

In 2021, the humanitarian community in Venezuela will focus on:

  • Providing life-saving assistance with critical health, nutrition, food security, protection and WASH interventions.
  • Improving living standards by strengthening livelihoods, maintaining safe and effective access to essential goods and services and ensuring safe and dignified shelters for people on the move.
  • Prevention, mitigation and response to protection risks, including those related to GBV, associated with human mobility and abuse, exploitation and neglect of children and adolescents. Differentiated needs by age and gender, as well as those of indigenous communities and persons with disabilities will be considered.

Despite the achievements, some partners – particularly NGOs - continue to face access challenges like politicization of humanitarian aid, fuel shortages, COVID-19 related travel restrictions, as well as administrative constraints on the entry of organizations, personnel and supplies. Advocacy has recently resulted in progress in addressing some of these challenges, including the adoption of a resolution enabling international NGOs to register in the country.

The 2020 Venezuela HRP was one of the world’s lowest funded. Ensuring a response commensurate with the scale of needs will only be possible with urgent additional funding.

Further reading

References

  1. Excluding the people in need due to mixed migration movements. Please refer to the Refugee and Migrant Plan for more information.
  2. Ministry of Health, Colombia.
  3. National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), September 2020 in comparison to September 2019
  4. Epidemiological Bulletin of the National Institute of Health.
  5. World Food Programme.
  6. National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE)
  7. Monitor, OCHA.
  8. Monitor, OCHA.
  9. Forced confinement is a practice of control whereby freedom of movement of population is restricted, impeding access to goods and services essential for survival for more than one week, and affecting access to at least three essential goods and services, thus generating humanitarian needs.
  10. Monitor, OCHA; The National Colombian Women's Observatory; Office of the High Commissioner for Peace of Colombia
  11. Ministry of Health of Colombia
  12. ECLAC, Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean 2020: Main conditioning factors of fiscal and monetary policies in the post-COVID-19 era, October 2020
  13. The Food Security Information Network Global Report on Food Crises 2020 included Venezuela among the 10 worst food crises in the world.
  14. FAO, State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) Report 2020. The Government does not agree with these findings.
  15. An assessment of WASH conditions in 17 hospitals conducted by PAHO/WHO in 2019 found that 88.3 per cent of the assessed hospitals present a high risk that hygiene and sanitary conditions pose a health risk to patients and staff; the rest face a medium risk. The findings were supported by internal WASH cluster monitoring of 89 health facilities.
  16. Ministry of Education data.
  17. Ministry of Education estimate based on administrative data.
  18. ECLAC, Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean 2020: Main conditioning factors of fiscal and monetary policies in the post-COVID-19 era, October 2020
  19. Figures for People in need, People targeted and Requirements are estimates.