QUITO (December 13, 2018) – CARE is scaling up operations across Latin America to meet the huge and increasing needs. It is urgently seeking an addition US $45 million to support people both inside Venezuela and in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru over the next three years.
“With additional funds we plan to scale up our operations, including working through partners in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas to try and address the shocking levels of child malnutrition and reproductive health issues faced by Venezuela women,” says Alexandra Moncada, CARE’s country director in Ecuador.
The current humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and the surrounding region is having an alarming effect on women and girls. As women try desperately to feed and clothe their families, an increasing number are being forced or tricked into prostitution by trafficking rings. The often illegal status of Venezuelan women in many countries within the region also increases their vulnerability to exploitation and abuse by these gangs.
“More than any other humanitarian emergency I have encountered, the Venezuela crisis is truly a women’s crisis,” notes Moncada. “We are hearing shocking reports of sex and labor trafficking of Venezuelan women across the region. We are talking about criminal rings that span countries and hundreds of thousands of miles. in some cases, parents are even asking their young daughters to turn to prostitution to help support the family.”
Over 3 million people have now fled Venezuela, with the majority going to neighboring countries, almost half of them are estimated to be women and around 30% children. Alongside trafficking, women in Venezuela are facing a further myriad of challenges and risks including a rise in sexual and gender-based violence, shortages of feminine items such as sanitary pads, high levels of maternal and infant mortality.
With children across Venezuela breaking up for Christmas holidays, many families may take the opportunity to escape the worsening humanitarian crisis. “For most Venezuelan children Christmas will be a bleak celebration this year,” says Moncada. “Many families are likely to take this gap in the school year to leave the country in search of a better future for their children and we expect to see an increase in the numbers, of especially young families, leaving the country at the beginning of 2019.”
CARE works in Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru to address the specific needs of women; by ensuring they have access to basic services, providing emergency cash to pay for food and accommodation, and psychosocial support. CARE is also providing hygiene kits with sanitary materials for women and awareness raising activities around the issues of gender-based violence.
CARE is calling for a comprehensive regional solution to this crisis to stop it from reaching a breaking point, and help the millions of people currently suffering. “This is a regional crisis, and it needs a regional solution to stop the suffering of millions of Venezuelans every day,” says Moncada. “At a minimum, Venezuelans leaving the country should be allowed free movement across the continent. Rather than closing down borders and giving in to xenophobia we need to open our hearts and homes to our neighbors and find a way to solve this together.”
About CARE in Ecuador and Peru
CARE has worked in Ecuador since 1962 and in Peru since 1970. CARE is also working through local partners on the Colombia-Venezuela border and within southern Venezuela (Apure) providing emergency assistance to those affected by the ongoing Venezuela crisis. CARE puts women and girls at the center of both its development and emergency work. Programs include domestic workers’ rights, combatting the spread of the Zika virus, initiatives to combat gender-based violence and the empowerment of women and women entrepreneurs.
Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. That’s why women and girls are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education and health, create economic opportunity, respond to emergencies and confront hunger. Last year CARE worked in 93 countries and reached more than 63 million people around the world. Learn more at care.org.
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