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Even though Venezuela is experiencing various conflicts within civil society, as well as an increase in crime and violence, the number of refugees has continued to increase, with most of them coming from neighbouring Colombia. The young displaced people are particularly affected as they do not have access to the educational system, and have limited opportunities to access the labour market. This situation leaves them at a greater risk of becoming involved in criminal activities of recruitment by gangs. Since 2012 RET has been working in Venezuela to protect the affected vulnerable young people by providing access to employment training and support for integration into the educational system.
The Crisis In Venezuela
Its Impact on Young People
How RET Protects Them
1. The Crisis In Venezuela
Venezuela has to respond to the needs and aspirations of an increasing number of people in need of international protection and refugees (PNIP). According to UNHCR, over 200’000 PNIPs have arrived in Venezuela, most of them (95%) of Colombian nationality. They are mostly concentrated in the border states of Amazonas, Apure, Tachira and Zulia.
The national legal instrument for refugee and asylum seekers is the Organic Law on Refugee and Asylum Seekers (October 2001), which establishes the procedure to give legal status to PNIPs.
Despite this legal framework, an important number of People in Need of International Protection have difficulties to move within the national territory and many of them are working in the informal market. Young people have access to the educational system, but it is a challenge for them to obtain the certification of their studies because of their situation. As a result, they do not have enough training to achieve their full integration potential amidst Venezuelans.
2. Its Impact on Young People
The population in Venezuela is very young. Demographic projections of National Institute of Statistic (INE), based in the last population census of 2011, say that by the year 2016 the population between 15 and 34 years old will represent 34% of the overall population.
Because of the present complex socio-economic situation in the country, many young people leave their schools before ending primary or secondary education to enter the labour market.
Regarding public health, Venezuela is faced with the important challenges that affect youth. For example, the Ministry of Popular Power to Health says that 1 out of 4 births in the country are of teenage parents.
3. How RET Protects Them
RET started its activities in Venezuela in the year 2012, in cooperation with UNHCR. Currently, RET has a presence in the border states of Zulia and Tachira, where it works primarily to ensure the protection of vulnerable young people, both locals and refugees.
In the Venezuelan context we apply and develop activities core to RET’s focus. We accompany young people’s integration to the education system. Also, RET facilitates trainings which improve the employability and develop entrepreneurship skills of vulnerable young people, local as well as displaced.
Our strategy also aims to increase the access to existing services. To achieve this, we have established strong inter-institutional links to strengthen the local protection system, and to provide relevant information to the refugee families in order for them to be aware of the available services, how to proceed and where to go. In parallel we also work with the local families so they can participate in the integration process and develop their own capacities.
RET acts to ensure comprehensive protection and the rights of young people within the field of education. Only through education can young people develop the skills and capabilities required to have a decent life and take advantage of existing opportunities.