Since 2015 mass migration from Venezuela to Colombia has steadily increased. There are nearly 4 million people who have become refugees in neighboring countries. Political and economic instability are leaving people desperate for food, medical care and critical services. In fact, more than 83 percent of the population live in poverty.
What is this journey like? After reaching Cucuta, Colombia many migrants will travel for over three months, often by foot, to Peru, Chile and Brazil in search of a new life and job opportunities.
Jose Luis, who holds a master’s degree, is one of many migrants who has had to leave Venezuela in search of work to support his family due to the lack of job opportunities.
CRS and partner organizations Caritas and the Social Action Commission of the Bishop’s Conference (CEAS) are providing 8,000 meals every day as well as basic medical care and temporary shelter at Casa de Paso, a local Cucuta church. When shelter space at the church and other migration centers runs out, migrants camp in the fields along the Colombia-Venezuela border.
As part of Casa de Paso’s school program, migrant children take part in gym activities and music lessons to help bring stability and normalcy to an otherwise turbulent and uncertain time at a critical moment of their physical and mental development.
In this time of great need in Venezuela, Colombia, and elsewhere around the world, we must continue to meet the basic needs of people in search of food, safety, services and a better life; while also ensuring that people and communities can flourish and thrive in their home countries through sustainable development and an end to conflict.
As a network, we’ve been active over this year advocating to protect and ensure the highest funding levels for humanitarian and development assistance.
Here is an update on your outreach and Congress’ action:
Over the summer we shared that the House and Senate appropriations committees each passed their respective bills to fund accounts for U.S. foreign aid in the 2019 federal budget, including those that support refugees and migrants overseas.
Congress has yet to come to an agreement on a compromise bill that works out the differences in funding levels between the House and Senate versions. With the deadline of September 30th, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution, or CR, which gives them until December 7th to pass a budget for 2019 foreign aid spending.
Until this budget process is finalized, we must continue to urge Congress to oppose any cuts to foreign aid and push for the highest funding levels possible, particularly at this time of great need around the world—especially for migrants and refugees.
Our collective voices have fought off threats to cut these critical funds before, and we need to continue to work together to ensure fiscal year 2019 is no different.