By Fernando Gimeno
Quito, Sep 7 (EFE).- The pace of an exodus that has already seen nearly 7 million Venezuelans emigrate in search of better economic conditions elsewhere will likely intensify in the coming months and years, according to a non-governmental organization that works to advance children’s rights and equality for girls around the world.
After visiting the Ecuador-Peru border and confirming the renewed steady flow of migrants following a pandemic-triggered hiatus, Unni Krishnan, the global humanitarian director at Plan International, said the global community is unaware of the magnitude of this humanitarian crisis.
“I don’t think that the rest of the world actually knows how challenging the situation is for aid agencies and also governments such as Peru, Ecuador who (are) hosting the refugees and the migrants,” due to their limited resources, said Krishnan, who witnessed the arrival of dehydrated migrants following a journey of thousands of kilometers, including several stretches on foot.
“So it’s important that the rest of the world recognizes how critical the situation is and how this is going to worsen in the next months and years to come.”
Krishnan therefore called on governments around the world to allocate more resources to this emergency, saying their response has been more subdued compared to similar crises elsewhere.
“Less than 20 percent of the appeal has been funded by the international community, whereas you look at some of the other crises you find a much better response,” he said.
“It is true than in an active conflict setting such as in South Sudan or in Ukraine there will be some difference in the needs. But when it comes to some of the very basic needs – in food assistance or nutrition, protection, education and specifically about mental health and psycho-social, you don’t find too much difference amongst refugees in different parts of the world,” Krishnan added.
In that regard, he appealed to the universal values of compassion and collaboration and said Colombia, Peru and Ecuador have been role models of solidarity by taking in between 3 million and 4.3 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees.
That is more than half of the nearly 7 million who have left the country, according to the latest figures from the Regional Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela.
“It’s important to recognize that openness to have them … especially in comparison with many Western countries who are systematically blocking children fleeing” their homelands.
Krishnan also referred to the child migrants’ “invisible needs” – emotional and mental aspects that frequently are ignored – and said they are as important as more tangible needs such as nutritional complements, shelter, education and child protection services.
“It is important we understand the psychological dimensions of the crisis. And that is where Plan (International) always prioritizes understanding the invisible needs. You know, I said food, shelter, water and clothes are very visible, but emotional needs are not so visible always.”
Aid organizations must be creative to gain the trust of migrant children and provide them with emotional and psychological assistance, he said, though lamenting that funding at times only arrives for a limited time and that projects may come to an end when young people are beginning to express their feelings.
Krishnan therefore stressed the important impact that low-budget initiatives can have, mentioning by way of example a Plan International mobile unit that works to provide assistance to Venezuelan migrant children on the Ecuador-Peru border. EFE