Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement welcomes the International Conference in Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants and their Host Countries and Communities co-organized by the Government of Canada and the European Commission.
The largest population movement in the Americas region’s recent history continues to be a tragic and underfunded humanitarian crisis.
Last year, I witnessed the conditions that migrants face on the route through Central America and Mexico.
The stories I heard from people who made this journey were of unimaginable suffering and horror. They were stories of exploitation, abuse, separation and loss of contacts with loved ones and, for too many—death.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement—National Societies, the IFRC and the ICRC—works with, and for people on the move, regardless of their status, seeking to enhance their protection and access to essential services and humanitarian assistance, in their countries of origin, transit and destination in more than 17 countries across the Americas.
Our experience, local reach and analysis tell us that despite our multi-stakeholder efforts, migrants still face a trail of unmet needs, including barriers to accessing essential humanitarian assistance and protection.
Our humanitarian imperative requires us to ensure that no one is left behind.
We must seek common, long-term solutions and investment to address the needs of people on the move in Venezuela and across the Americas region.
To do so, we must work together to ensure the following:
First—We believe that national policies must be aligned with national practices that favour social inclusion, and non-discrimination.
The priority should always be to prevent and address the separation of families.
Second: We believe that migrants must have guaranteed access to humanitarian assistance, essential services, information, justice, and protection in respect of their rights, irrespective of their status.
Red Cross Red Crescent Humanitarian Service Points—strategically located along key migration routes—provide lifesaving and protection services that address the needs of migrants and absorb critical public service gaps.
Invest in them, support migrants to access them.
Third: We recognize that governments have a responsibility to facilitate the work of humanitarian actors who provide principled support to migrants journeying along dangerous routes.
Local and national actors including National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies play a critical role in supporting migrants in vulnerable situations.
Individually and together, the components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement stand ready to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to the migrants in most vulnerable situations and host communities, keeping the response as local as possible and as global as necessary, and always in coordination with States.