Colombia

DRC commends Colombia’s decision to regularize Venezuelan migrants

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in Colombia commends the decision of the Colombian government to implement a Temporary Protection Statute for Venezuelans. The initiative could benefit more than 1.7 million Venezuelans who left their country. The announcement was made on February 8th during a meeting between the Colombian President and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.

The Temporary Protection Statute for Venezuelan Migrants is a great step forward in promoting durable solutions and human rights for Venezuelan refugees and migrants. The new Temporary Protection Statute (EPTV) will be in place for ten years and will benefit Venezuelans with temporary residency permits. But it is also a unique opportunity for the most vulnerable persons in irregular migratory status to regularize their stay and access protection and basic rights.

According to the National Migration Office, Migración Colombia, there were more than 1,729,000 Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Colombia by December 31st, 2020. This represents more than 34% of the total number of Venezuelans who have left their country. About 56%, a little more than 966,000 are in an irregular condition. However, DRC Colombia estimates that the percentage of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in an irregular situation could be even higher.

Venezuelans who obtain the EPTV would be able to stay in Colombia on a regular basis for a period of 10 years. After that time they would have to acquire a resident visa if they would wish to remain in the country. The EPTV does not replace refugee protection and is not equivalent to international protection status.

The implementation of this statute will be overseen by Migración Colombia and will be carried out in two stages.

The first stage will be done online and consist of the registration of foreigners in the Single Registry of Venezuelan Migrants, a mechanism that will allow the National Government to characterize and identify the Venezuelan population living in Colombia. Those who register will then be able to apply for the temporary protection permit and those that do not will be subject to migratory sanctions.

The second stage will be carried out face-to-face, allowing those who registered in the first phase to apply for a Personal Temporary Protection Permit, a regularization and identification document for Venezuelan citizens.

DRC Colombia pledges its commitment to assist the Colombian government in the implementation of the EPTV and to ensure protection for the most vulnerable Venezuelans.

The Danish Refugee Council has been operating in Colombia since 2011, with a focus on Humanitarian Mine Action and the provision of support to conflict-affected populations. From 2018, the onset of large mixed migration flows into Colombia has required a major integrated humanitarian response to meet the urgent needs of refugees, asylum seekers, migrants, Colombian returnees, and host communities. Support to refugees and migrants includes Protection activities (Protection Monitoring, Community based protection, Legal assistance. and prevention of and response to Gender-Based Violence), Management of Maicao Transit Centre, Cash assistance and livelihoods programming. In 2020, 205,000 vulnerable people benefited from DRC activities.