In the recent years, Venezuela has seen a massive increase in migration. With numerous refugees seeking asylum from political corruption, violent protests, and civil unrest, countries worldwide fear a humanitarian crisis. Consequently, all of this stems from the Venezuela Crisis, an opposition of the Democratic Unity Roundtable against the Chavistas, the socialist party under President Hugo Chavez (PSUV).
From April to June, daily protests commence in Caracas, several escalating into violence. The opposition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) views President Nicolas Maduro as a dictator, accusing him of corrupting the government; however, the latter claims the MUD, which influences by foreign countries such as the United States, betrayed Venezuela. The Venezuela Crisis consists of three critical components: problems, politics, and protests. To begin with, many citizens lack the necessities of a healthy life. Caught in an economic war and hyperinflation, there are severe food shortages, lack of health care such as hospitals and doctors, depreciation of the local currency, foreign debt, developing crime, and widespread poverty. These predicaments unfortunately often lead to trespassing the Colombian border in search of affordable goods, a weakened currency, and the deaths of many unattended patients and victims of crime. In 2016, 27,479 deaths are recorded, becoming the highest number of deaths from crime in Venezuela. In addition to inflation, Venezuela’s oil production lags behind by around 20,000 barrels daily.
Politics play a significant role in the deteriorating economy. President Maduro isn’t able to follow former President Chavez’s example; plunging oil prices thwarting his government. Without proper revenue from oil, 95% of Venezuela’s export earnings, social services provided to poor Venezuelans who are curbed and supporters decrease. The Democratic Unity Roundtable argues that PSUV’s rise to power “eroded Venezuela’s democratic institutions and mismanaged its economy”. However, many Venezuelans do not believe in the MUD, a coalition of Venezuela’s centrist, centre-left, left-wing, and centre-right parties, despite their opposition against corruption. Unstable internally, the Democratic Unity Roundtable riddles with political disagreements between parties. Finally, these terrible conditions prompt the common people to initiate action.
In 2016, distortions in voting were rumored, causing the Supreme Court to suspend the election for legislation. The Democratic Unity Roundtable exposes the Supreme Court’s attempts at removing the MUD majority and making Maduro supreme leader. Later, the National Assembly rebuffs PDVSA, the Venezuelan State-owned oil and natural gas company, triggering the Supreme Court into nullifying all their decisions and taking over the Congress’ legislative powers on March 30. This caused protests all over the capital. While the Court retreats on April 1, the citizens continue utilizing rocks and tear gas to fight hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine.Currently, there are 50,000 Venezuelan asylum seekers located all around the United States, Brazil, Peru, Spain, Mexico, Aruba, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curazao, Ecuador, Trinidad, and Tobago.
Luckily, Venezuelan refugees can find temporary shelter and safety in Latin America from violence and corruption. Not all asylum seekers are granted immigration however as there are still many legislative restrictions, waiting periods, and costly application fees. Member states at the UN Human Rights Council discussed the rising humanitarian crisis in Venezuela in 2017. With wavering support and criticism, the Venezuelan government is being challenged by the UN. The Human Rights Watch listed the plethora of human rights issues with 115 nongovernment organizations at the meeting: the ruthless takedowns of anti-government masses, the immense authority the Constituent Assembly holds, and the severe famine and shortage of medicine. The Lima 12, Canada, European Union, United States, South Korea, and Japan propose in denouncing the Venezuelan Constituent Assembly due to the violation of human rights, refusing humanitarian aid, and applying embargo on weapons trades. UN support in Venezuela has visibly dwindled as well, as only 57 states are left of the 88 states that originally backed them. The current goals of UN include continuing efforts to pressure the Venezuelan government and the request for a briefing by the UN High Commissioner as well as the authorization of an international investigation into the violated human rights.
Furthermore, the United Nations advises neighboring countries to take in refugees. Despite the restrictions placed upon asylum seekers, the UN Refugee Agency aims to improve registration and profiling and providing assistance and support to Venezuelan refugees. Interviews of refugees by Colombian UNHCR constructs an idea of the necessities for refugees, adding reinforcements to borders and providing humanitarian assistance.
Brazilian UNHCR funds the activities of several humanitarian organizations. Federal Police join in assisting registration and documentation. To protect the asylum seekers of Venezuela, UNHCR is cooperating with Latin America and the world bring them to safety.Currently, Senegal houses 17,878 asylum seekers, a majority from Mauritania and other African countries.
Despite there being no refugee camps, the asylum seekers find shelter in local communities and urban areas. Regarding UNHCR, there are five national staff, one international staff, one IUNV, and one office located in Senegal. The Senegal Unit recognizes partnership, allying with the CNE, CNRRPD, OFADEC, Amnesty International, Caritas, VIVRE-CAPREC, RADDHO, ICRC, and several UN agencies. Immigration is well-respected in Senegal. With a worldwide message of compassion and responsibility for refugees, the World Refugee Day is hosted in Ndioum of the Valley of the Senegal River. A variety of performances with put on by refugees and education was encouraged to children by the presence of the Senegalese Ministry of education. Additionally, the concerns and statuses of the refugees are recorded by the Regional Representative to improve conditions for refugees.
Asylum seekers are granted protection rights. Nine hearings were held in name of refugees by the National Eligibility Committee and overseen by the Senegalese UNHCR. The Committee looks into 35 refugee cases and issued 10 approved opinions to President Macky Sall. Senegalese UNHCR constantly takes migrant opinions into consideration for improvement and reflect in workshops, the most recent being June 7, hosted by Caritas, VIS, and the Socio-educational Centre Keur Don Bosco. In fact, education is highly encouraged in Senegal. On June 1st, the first meeting is held by DAFI to discuss 15 enrolled students.
At the meeting, first-semester progress, club activities, health care, and credentials are examined. These conversations aid in the chances of the admission of refugee students into universities and institutes in their asylum countries. Another workshop is hosted on May 11 in Dakar where UNHCR considered improvements in education with the Technical and Financial Partners of Education.Lastly, assistance is always available to refugees in Senegal. There are currently three assistance committees, all organized by OFADEC. One-time support and monthly-financial support for shelters and healthcare are offered. Hospitals, health posts, and health centers are all available to examine illnesses and receive medical support. Also, food rations and nutritional aid are provided to relieve illness and starvation.
With an unwavering vision for the asylum seekers and immigrants, Senegal has proved that their current policies are stable and effective. Refugee protection, education, health, nutrition, assistance, and satisfaction are all prioritized by the organizations and government of Senegal. First of all, Senegal should continue providing protection to refugees. Adding to the previous nine hearings, 54 out of 180 cases were held. The CNE accepted 16 cases. While the percentage of accepted cases is indeed low, one must consider the amount of effort and support to provide for the refugees. Refugees are vulnerable as they have no protection from their original country, and often other countries will only provide minimal protection to refugees or label them as statelessness. Senegal has listened to, taken in, and provided constantly for refugees, and by sustaining these acts of protection, they can further support Venezuelan asylum seekers who are in desperate need of aid.
Next, education, health care, and nutrition should continue to be open to refugees. DAFI scholarships are already provided and immigrated students (specifically 293 elementary and 94 high school) have already received aid for education, such as supplies, registration, transportation, the right to education. They are also eligible for universities. In healthcare, 72% of all Senegal refugees have received financial aid for health insurance (MUSABIT) and access to hospitals, and 57% have already been attended by medical experts. Regarding food provisions, malnutrition and starvation are prevented by food rations and support.
In fact, they exceeded their original goal of 55 children under 5 years with 75. As one can see, Senegal cares for the welfare of refugees who’ve lived through rough hardships in their original country. These programs and financial aids are indeed costly; however, Senegal has the cooperation of many non-government organizations, international organizations, UN agencies, as well as support from other countries.
Children will be able to learn, compensate communities, and support others and their families with newfound knowledge. Venezuelan refugees will definitely be provided for and taken care of with all the assistance of Senegal. Finally, Senegal should continue improving the conditions of refugees. Asylum seekers escaped brutal conditions and endured many difficulties to get to safety. To alleviate their adversities, Senegal has continued to empower communities, raise awareness, and host mood-changing events such as the celebration of World Refugee Day. UNHCR and other organizations also interview numerous asylum seekers and reflect in workshops to improve conditions for them, such as providing ID cards, birth certificates, employment opportunities, the ability to move. It is recorded that 51 refugees can now benefit from savings provided by their FDEA account. Furthermore, 450 refugees have already contributed back to the community by through support activities and planning and performing at the World Refugee Day for humanitarian organizations, funders, and the Senegal government.
This celebration reminds the refugees and supporters worldwide to never give up hope and work toward protecting all immigrants. Surely, these positive communities will give Venezuelans a sense of comfort away from home. With overwhelming support, they will be able to live steadily until it is time to return home. Also, Senegal benefits when aided refugees give back to communities. It is a cycle that can continue to grow to reach those who seek safety from their country.