Content of this page:
1. Description of the refugee situation
2. Colombia's response to the refugee situation
3. Steps towards meeting the objectives of the Compact in Colombia
1. Description of refugee situation
Where does the population of concern live?
Mostly in urban settings.
Population of concern
* as of September 2019.
Find more data, information and fact sheets on the refugee situation in Colombia on the UNHCR Operational Portal as well as UNHCR Global Focus.
2. The response to the refugee situation in Colombia
The Interagency Group on Mixed Migration Flows (GIFMM in Spanish), co-led by UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is the forum that coordinates the response to the significant number of new refugee and migrant arrivals from Venezuela and for other populations in need such as Colombian returnees and host communities. The GIFMM works in support of the Government-led response and is composed of 57 members at the national level, with 8 local GIFMMs covering 11 departments. It also coordinates with the Humanitarian Country Team to ensure synergies between the response to VENSIT and to other humanitarian situations.
The Colombian Government’s structures include a national inter-institutional unit led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidency, which heads the government response and coordinates with the GIFMM. Within the Presidency, a team lead by the Advisor to the Presidency on Migration Affairs, responsible for articulating the Government’s response, identifying priorities and gaps, and coordinating efforts with UN agencies, NGOs, civil society, the private sector and other key stakeholders. There are also Unified Command Posts, which are convened to address emergency situations and coordinate time-sensitive operation. The Government has established Migration Roundtables; these are spaces where national, regional, and local government entities, with participation from GIFMM, regularly meet to strategize and implement responses to support the Venezuelan population.
Partnerships in the refugee response
- Line Ministries: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education
- Other government entities: Presidency, Colombian Institute for Family Welfare, Congress, Ombudsman, Public Employment Service, National Learning Service (SENA, the national vocational training body), Colombia Migration, APE, Presidential Agency for International Cooperation, National Unit for Disaster Risk Management
- UN Agencies, National NGOS, and International NGOs: Please see attached list of GIFMM members at the national and local levels
- Private Sector: Sierra Nevada, WeWork, Caracol Television SA, Hoteles Estelar, Sunshine Bouquet, Teleperformance, Mario Hernández, Family Social Welfare Funds (cajas de compensación), various business associations and others
- Others: Colombian host communities, humanitarian donor groups, Colombia Cooperants Group, Venezuelan organizations, faith-based organizations, other civil society organizations
Partnerships strengthened or made possible thanks to the implementation of the Global Compact of Refugees
A range of partners are involved in the response for Venezuelan refugees in Colombia. These include government, state institutions, UN Agencies, academia, civil society, private sector, financial institutions, and communities to ensure a comprehensive, approach to the response.
UNHCR is collaborating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Registrar’s Office, Congress, and the Ombudsman’s office to promote access to nationality for children born in Colombia to Venezuelan parents and who are otherwise at risk of statelessness. UNHCR also promotes access to legal assistance and international protection for Venezuelans by supporting Ombudsman’s offices, establishing Information Kiosks, and strengthening the National Legal Aid Clinic Network of more than 20 universities.
Additionally, through forming alliances with business associations as well as large and small companies, the private sector shows that it can meaningfully contribute to bringing solutions for refugees and migrants by providing opportunities for their socio-economic inclusion. UNHCR has also engaged in dialogue with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank with the goal of promoting financial inclusion and labour market access for Venezuelans.
Finally, UNHCR supports participatory processes to establish ties with affected communities, focusing on capacity building and empowerment so that the communities themselves are active participants in the refugee response.
3. Steps towards meeting the objectives of the Compact in Colombia
Summary of the Refugee Compact in action in Colombia
Colombia’s response to the refugee situation aims to achieve several objectives of the Global Refugee Compact. This is done mainly through interventions that bridge the humanitarian and development interventions. Beginning with short-term strategies, GIFMM members provide direct emergency assistance to Venezuelans as measures of immediate relief to vulnerable populations on the move; this also helps to ease the pressure on Colombia’s resources in addressing large movements of refugees and migrants. In 2019, the emergency assistance benefited 50,000 individuals who were able to access a source of drinking water, nearly 500,000 people who received general medical care, and 300,000 individuals who received meals in community kitchens .Emergency education services were made available to over 14,000 children, and 45,000 individuals benefited from multipurpose cash transfers. The GIFMM has also prioritized actions within the Protection sector, in which over 100,000 Venezuelan refugees and migrants were informed of their rights to documentation, regularization procedures, and asylum processes; furthermore, nearly 10,000 cases accessed prevention and care routes for survivors of gender-based violence; and 140,000 “at-risk” children utilized child-friendly spaces.
To promote long-term solutions in parallel, GIFMM members work with Government entities on capacity-building initiatives, as demonstrated by the provision of technical training to nearly 1,500 officials on topics such as international protection, access to rights for refugees and migrants, and implementation of good practices and information management. Another long-term solution includes enhancing refugee self-reliance through socio-economic inclusion; within this framework, the GIFMM members have assisted over 900 Venezuelan refugees to access employability courses aimed at labour market insertion and nearly 600 others with entrepreneurship training. UNHCR, in particular, has prioritized labour market access as a mechanism to promote social inclusion of Venezuelans in Colombia. Through formalized partnerships with employment agencies, business associations, and individual companies in the private sector, UNHCR is working to advance income generation opportunities for Venezuelans as well as publicize anti-xenophobia campaigns.
UNHCR also collaborates with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Colombia Unites Us programme to bolster enrolment in the Registry for Colombian Returnees. This mechanism helps give visibility to the Colombian returnee population to support the creation of public policies to address this group’s specific needs.
Pledges and contributions made by Colombia
Pledges and contributions dashboard (interactive by Area of Focus)
This dashboard includes all pledges and contributions made towards the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees in Colombia, including national pledges made by the Government of Colombia itself.
> Explore the Good Practices page and its various projects and initiatives in Colombia