PQMD Member IsraAID Delivers Urgent Aid to Venezuelan Refugees

The Israeli NGO begins relief distributions in Colombia as thousands escape worsening conditions across the border daily.

Israeli humanitarian aid agency IsraAID has dispatched an Emergency Response team to the city of Cúcuta, on Colombia’s border with Venezuela, which is a flashpoint in the ongoing Venezuelan displacement crisis.Thousands cross the Simon Bolivar bridge from Venezuela into Cúcuta every day seeking relief from the continued economic and political crisis in the country. IsraAID’s team has already started distributing relief supplies and delivering sanitation and hygiene activities for Venezuelan refugees in the city. Needs on the ground are extremely urgent with 1.2 million Venezuelan refugees already in Colombia, and the organization has already committed to remain in the country for the long-term.

IsraAID representatives meet with Venezuelan refugees in Colombia. IsraAID is working with local partners to provide resources to the thousands leaving the economic and political turmoil in Venezuela and entering Colombia. (Courtesy photo IsraAID)

IsraAID will work side-by-side with the local community and Veneuzuelan refugee organizations in Colombia. On Friday, May 17th, IsraAID’s team distributed relief materials and conducted hygiene promotion activities for 500 newly-arrived Venezuelans at the border crossing, in partnership with Fundacion Venezolanos en Cúcuta, an organization of locally-based Venezuelans who provide support to new arrivals as they enter Colombia.

Access to food, medical supplies and protection resources for Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Colombia are severely limited, raising fears of a growing secondary crisis at the border and among displaced communities. Around 5,000 Venezuelans are arriving in the country daily, adding to the more than 3.4 million Venezuelan refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants spread across the region.

IsraAID’s response plan will include child protection and back-to-school activities, community resilience-building and psychological support, hygiene and sanitation promotion and relief distributions.

IsraAID currently has active recovery teams across the region, supporting communities affected by the El Fuego Volcano eruption in Guatemala, the 2017 earthquakes in Mexico, and Hurricane Maria in Dominica and Puerto Rico. The organization also has recent experience in Colombia responding to the 2017 mudslides in Mocoa, providing safe water access and psychosocial support programming to affected communities in partnership with local authorities, NGOs, and the local Jewish community.

“The Venezuelan refugee crisis has rapidly developed into one of the world’s most serious humanitarian emergencies. With thousands crossing into Colombia every day, local communities and responders on the ground are being stretched to breaking point. Our team reached the Colombia-Venezuela border last week, where they confronted an increasingly urgent situation, with vulnerable people crossing the border in desperate need of basic supplies, emergency relief, and protection. IsraAID will work with both refugee and host communities to meet these needs, and we plan to stay for the long-term,” said Yotam Polizer, IsraAID Co-CEO.

IsraAID’s emergency response in Colombia is supported by AJC and additional generous donors. Donations to IsraAID’s Venezuelan refugee crisis response can be made through the IsraAID Emergency Response Fund.