October 29, 2019


Read below the remarks made by Giampaolo Silvestri, Secretary General of AVSI, at the “International Solidarity Conference on the Venezuelan Refugee and Migrant crisis” held on October 28-29 and organized by the EU, IOM and UNHCR


Approximately 4.5 million Venezuelans have fled as a result of the political turmoil, socio-economic instability, and humanitarian crisis in their country. The international community is actively involved in supporting the host countries bearing the burden of the refugee and migrant crisis. Since 2018, AVSI has been working in reception centers and through social and economic integration actions.

On October 28-29, in Brussels, the European Union, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), co-hosted the International Solidarity Conference on the Venezuelan Refugee and Migrant Crisis. 

The event aimed to raise global awareness about the Venezuelan refugee and migrant crisis and the efforts of hosting countries and communities. The conference also wanted to mobilize support in addressing the refugee and migrant crisis and to demonstrate the solidarity of the international community to the affected host countries.

Giampaolo Silvestri, AVSI Secretary General, shared the experience of AVSI with Venezuelans in Brazil from the floor. These are his remarks:

Our action: 

  • – We are managing some reception centers, and are assisting refugees in Boa Vista – (Roraima State) since 2018 to ensure access to essential services. AVSI is now responsible for the management of 6 centers, hosting around 5,000 refugees, as part of the Brazilian Federal Government – Program, in partnership with UNHCR and with funds from Italy.
  • – We have ongoing activities in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), to ensure access to formal employment for Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Brazil and the most vulnerable Brazilian population;
  • – We work with Bernard Van Leer Foundation to promote continuity for the public policy “Familia que acolhe” launched in Boa Vista;
  • – We are engaging, thank to funds raised by AVSI, in the integration of Venezuelans in the Brazilian cities where they settle down, through the reception and assistance of fifty families;
  • – Two small projects, funded by UNICEF, have just been launched to promote education in emergency.

Partnerships with the private sector allow AVSI to work towards employment of refugees, in particular with:

– Industrias San Miguel – Peruvian company, operating in Brazil in the beverage industry, in which we have employed Venezuelan refugees..
– SODEXO – French multinational in the sector of business services with which we have an agreement for the employment of Venezuelan refugees.

This is for us the only way: the multi-stakeholder approach for a migration flow that has reached unprecedented proportions, and that will remain an emergency for the coming years.

What does a multi-stakeholder approach mean, and what are its advantages?

The issue of migration is complex, and it demands that:

– priority is given to the care of the person, both the migrant and the host community
– interventions are implemented paying attention to the present day, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow with a long perspective and with a focus on the sustainability of the projects; and
– partnerships with different actors.

NGOs are necessary mediators and facilitators: when they have been working with local communities for a long time, they know and understand the actual needs of both the people that arrive and the host communities.

The intervention of public donors is essential to respond to immediate needs: if people are hungry, we must give the hungry something to eat now.

Private companies: they support job training, but also job creation. This approach helps the commitment of public donors during a crisis because it makes available new resources available. But the nature of the enterprise should always be respected: the inclusive business.

Employment is not only a response to hunger, but also the necessary condition to ensure the dignity of the person.

Conclusion: the multi-stakeholder approach must promote the person, help him/her to overcome, and exit the condition of “refugee-migrant” to be a full-fledged citizen of the world’s community. The alternative is not human.