10 Dec The Cost of Change
The Cost of Change
Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of Venezuelan refugees are facing serious food and health issues, crossing the border to Colombia in the hope of finding a better future. Jerónimo Martins is working with Caritas Polska and Caritas Colombiana to provide food and humanitarian support to those in need.
“I had to go. I had to. For my 18-month-old son. He deserves a better future.” Strong words like these have become an everyday reality for the thousands of Venezuelans who cross the border to Colombia leaving everything behind in the hope of finding a more peaceful future. The voice of Adriana Camargo, a 31-year old mother from the Venezuelan state of Zulua, tends to break a little when explaining how difficult it was at the beginning. “I decided to go out of necessity, as I couldn’t afford to buy food for me or my family. Like me, there are a lot more families struggling every day”.
Every day, thousands of Venezuelans cross the border to Colombia in the hope of finding a more peaceful future.
The political, economic and social uncertainty Venezuela has been facing, now aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, contributed to the migration of over 1.7 million Venezuelans to Colombia up to December 2019. This number only takes into account the seven authorised migration points, which means a much higher number of people has entered the country through the approximately 300 illegal entrance gates.
Norte de Santander is one of the departments most severely impacted by the Venezuelan migrant crisis in Colombia, in particular through the border checkpoints at Cúcuta and Villa del Rosario. Thousands of Venezuelans are now living in Colombian host communities, informal settlements mostly located in marginalised, overcrowded areas that lack access to basic needs, such as water, food and sanitation.
HUMANITARIAN FOOD ASSISTANCE
IN CÚCUTA AND VILLA DEL ROSARIO
With Covid-19, the few precarious, informal jobs that existed have become extinct, further aggravating the economic difficulties of many families. A very significant proportion of them live in unsanitary neighbourhoods and in houses with a dozen or more family members, which allows the virus to spread rapidly. Intended to provide food and humanitarian support to the most vulnerable Venezuelans and Colombians living in the marginalised areas of Norte de Santander, the retail chain Ara and the Jerónimo Martins Group, together with Caritas Polska and Caritas Colombia, have set up a united operation to ensure the distribution of food baskets to vulnerable communities.
The six-month project started on 1 June and the first monthly distribution of food baskets to the municipalities of Cúcuta and Villa del Rosario took place on 18 June. By the end of October, almost 9,500 food baskets had been donated, 70% of which were given to Venezuelan immigrants and the remaining 30% to Colombians in vulnerable situations. These baskets were distributed to 1,185 Venezuelan and Colombian families living in Cúcuta and Villa del Rosario, from babies to the elderly.