As of March 2021, an estimated 1.7 million people from Venezuela were based in Colombia— approximately 32 % of all Venezuelan migrants in Latin America. The impact of the crisis is geographically concentrated: approximately 25 municipalities in Colombia (of a total of 1,122) host 70 % of all Venezuelan migrants. For Colombia, however, the long-term economic benefits of this migration have the potential to outweigh the short-term costs. Recognizing that properly managed migration is a development opportunity, since 2015 Colombia has remained committed to exemplary open policies for the social and economic integration of Venezuelan migrants. These efforts include: (i) issuing work, transit, and stay permits; (ii) extending access to health, education, and social programs and housing subsidies; (iii) investing to benefit both host and migrant communities; and (iv) protecting vulnerable populations through programs to reunify families, protect children, and prevent human trafficking.
Since the beginning of the Venezuelan exodus in 2015, the World Bank has mobilized its global expertise in responding to situations of human mobility and supporting host countries working to integrate migrant populations. The Bank has supported the Colombian government with analytical capacity, financial and technical assistance, and convening power, enhancing the government response to the unprecedented situation through numerous projects, including Responding to the Venezuelan Migration Crisis in Colombia and SPF Colombia: COVID-19 Response for Migrants from Venezuela and Host Communities. The Bank’s support aligns with several broader strategies, particularly the World Bank Group Fragility, Conflict, and Violence Strategy and the COVID-19 approach paper. The Colombian government’s response to the large-scale exodus from Venezuela has focused on humanitarian outreach and on ensuring the long-term integration of migrants and refugees. The impact of the crisis is multidimensional, as the arrival of massive numbers of migrants has placed pressure on many of Colombia’s institutions and systems. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that the shock of such migration—if well managed—can bring development opportunities for LAC countries.
The World Bank has responded to the Venezuelan migration crisis by supporting Colombia through a combination of financing, analysis, and partnership.
The World Bank has been one of the main sources of funding for Colombia, delivering support through four approved projects.
· Colombia became a beneficiary of the Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF), becoming the first country outside the Middle East to access this fund, which provides countries with concessional financing for projects to support migrant and host communities.
· Colombia’s first project, approved in 2019, the Second Fiscal Sustainability, Competitiveness, and Migration Development Policy Financing (DPF), includes support for government policies to regularize and integrate Venezuelan migrants, including enabling 115,012 Venezuelans to access services from the National Employment Agency. Some 281,557 migrants, 139,586 of whom were women, obtained Temporary Stay Permits (Permiso Especial de Permanencia, or PEP).
· The second project approved, Improving Quality of Health Care Services and Efficiency in Colombia, aims to improve the health system. With the support of the project, by June 2021, a total of 196,000 Venezuelans had been enrolled in the General System of Social Security in Health.
· The third project, the Colombia: Resilient and Inclusive Housing Project, aims to increase access to decent housing for migrants and host communities.
· Fourth, the State and Peace-Building Fund (SPF) Colombia: COVID-19 Response for Migrants from Venezuela and Host Communities, will deepen WB collaboration with the United Nations system and close the humanitarian-development gap, benefiting some 75,500 migrants.
In October 2018, the World Bank published Migration from Venezuela to Colombia: Impacts and Response Strategy in the Medium and Long Term. The report marked a fundamental step forward in understanding the impact of migration to date, creating a road map of actions and public policies to face the challenges and maximize the benefits of this phenomenon. The report informed key policy-making processes in the country, including:
· The Venezuela Migration Attention Strategy, formulated under CONPES 3950, which identifies 69 specific actions organized under two main pillars: (i) caring for and integrating migrants, and (ii) strengthening institutional capacity for a coordinated response.
· The National Development Plan 2018–2022, Pact for Colombia, Pact for Equity, which establishes as a government priority the social and economic integration in Colombia of the migrant population from Venezuela.
· Thanks to its impact, the analysis became an international model for similar analyses in Peru (2019), Ecuador (2020), and Chile (2021).
The Bank is also deepening its support for improved data collection and analysis under the initiative Venezuelan Refugee-Like Population: Data Collection and Analysis to Support Policy Making.
Bank Group Contribution
The World Bank has allocated US$1.6 billion to support Colombia’s response to the Venezuelan migration crisis. The World Bank program fully aligns with the Country Partnership Framework (2020–2025) and is based on findings from the report Migration from Venezuela to Colombia: Impacts and Response Strategy in the Medium and Long Term, the Venezuela Migration Attention Strategy formulated under CONPES 3950, and the National Development Plan 2018–2022, Pact for Colombia, Pact for Equity. Through its technical and financial activities, the World Bank is tackling some of the most critical recommendations for managing the migration shock and turning it into development opportunities for all. The Bank’s response has been cross-sectoral, addressing needs at all levels of government and adapting a short-term humanitarian response into a medium- and long-term developmental response.
The World Bank has intensified its traditionally close collaboration with development partners in Colombia. The program complements the efforts of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), and several bilateral development partners and UN agencies. Specifically, the Analysis of Impacts of Venezuelan Migration in Colombia was produced in close partnership with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migrations (IOM), while Responding to the Venezuelan Migration Crisis in Colombia has included activities on antidiscrimination and xenophobia coordinated with several UN agencies, humanitarian partners, and civil society groups. Finally, the project SPF Colombia: COVID-19 Response for Migrants from Venezuela and Host Communities is being implemented by the World Food Program, and the projects Improving Quality of Health Care Services and Efficiency in Colombia and the proposed Colombia: Social and Economic Integration of Migrants DPF incorporate parallel financing with the IDB.
The main beneficiaries of the Bank’s support for projects to expand financial access include Venezuelan migrants and refugees and people living in marginalized and underserved host communities. This assistance includes:
· PEP temporary stay permits have been provided to 281,557 of the 442,462 Venezuelan migrants identified through the Administrative Registry of Venezuelan Migrants in Colombia (RAMV), 139,586 of whom were women.
· A total of 115,012 Venezuelans are now able to access services from the National Employment Agency.
· A total of 196,000 Venezuelans, as of June 2021, have been enrolled in the health system.
The program supported by the Bank has helped create a path toward effective recovery from a forced displacement shock, turning challenges into longer-term development opportunities. The Colombia: Social and Economic Integration of Migrants DPF is scheduled to be presented to the Board in November 2021, becoming the first DPL focused 100 % on forced displacement and migration ever approved by the World Bank. This project aims to support Venezuelan migrants’ social and economic integration into host areas by supporting policies such as Temporary Protection Status (TPS), an instrument providing regular status to Venezuelans for ten years, and downstream integration and service access, including to COVID-19 vaccines, that complement technical assistance resources. In line with the objectives of the Colombia CPF, the World Bank expects to continue supporting the integration of migrants and refugees as a marginalized population through policy dialogue and lending, underpinned by strong analytics and advisory work. Faster integration of Venezuelans into Colombia’s social and economic fabric represents a great opportunity to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and enable a faster, sustained recovery.
Two additional projects are expected to provide significant impact. The Colombia: Resilient and Inclusive Housing Project will provide access to improved urban living conditions for approximately 33,556 Venezuelan migrant households, and by September 2022, the Colombia: Social and Economic Integration of Migrants DPF will provide access for 1.1 million Venezuelans to the TPS and to COVID-19 vaccines.