Employment and Integration: Responding to the Needs of Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees in Host Countries
Bogotá, Colombia – March 17, 2023
The International Organization for Migration reported in January 2023 that 250,000 migrants crossed the Darien jungle (located on the southern border of Panama with Colombia, connecting the North and South American continents) in 2022—double the number that crossed in 2021.
Venezuelan migrants in various states of mobility and legal status represent a large percentage of migration flows in Latin America every year. For Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and other countries, responding effectively to this migratory phenomenon is a challenge.
From March 15 to 17, 2023, international cooperation agencies, civil society organisations and government representatives met in Brussels at an event organized by the Government of Canada and the European Union. The International Conference in Solidarity with Refugees, Venezuelan Migrants, Host Countries and Communities highlighted the urgency of investing in and doubling efforts to achieve long-term socio-economic integration for Venezuelan refugees and migrants.
“Socio-economic integration is necessary for any solution to be effective and durable,” said Aymeric Astre, a panel member who is the Country Representative of Cuso International, a Canadian NGO operating in Colombia. “The first step to achieving this integration is to promote inclusive employment, but we must all work together to achieve it. The government can create the enabling conditions for more people to obtain decent employment, companies can strengthen inclusive hiring policies, and civil society has the experience to guide and facilitate these processes.”
Cuso International’s Sustainable Colombian Opportunities for Peacebuilding and Employment Project (SCOPE), funded by the Canadian government, has linked more than 11,279 people to decent employment in eight cities across Colombia during its eight years of implementation. Of the people connected, 3,557 are migrants, 6,744 are women, and 9,022 are youth. After its success in Colombia, Cuso International is currently replicating key components of the SCOPE Project in Ecuador and Peru with additional funding from the Canadian government.
The Public Employment Service, local governments, trade unions, civil society organisations, and more than 100 private sector companies work collective with Cuso International as part of SCOPE. These alliances have helped break down barriers to access and permanence in the labour market by Venezuelan migrants and other marginalized groups. Cuso International and partners are developing cost-effective and innovative solutions to address key barriers, such as linking migrants to information about training to access employment and providing cash transfers to migrants to pay for transportation and food while they received their first paycheck.
Cuso International continues to advocate for renewed international commitment and support aimed at strengthening innovative solutions and public-private partnerships that address the particular needs emerging from this migration phenomenon.
About Cuso International:
Cuso International is an international cooperation and development organization working to create economic and social opportunities for marginalized groups. Together with our partners, we are focused on efforts to advance gender equality and social inclusion, improve economic resilience, and deliver climate action. We believe that by sharing skills, we can build better futures. Founded in 1961, Cuso International works in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Canada.