Supporting Host Communities for Refugees and Migrants in the Border Regions of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru

Project description

Title: Supporting Host Communities for Refugees and Migrants in the Border Regions of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru (SI FRONTERA)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union (EU)
Country: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
Lead executing agency: Colombia: Presidential Agency of International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ecuador: Vice Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, Peru:  Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate General for Economic Affairs
Overall term: 2018 to 2023



As a result of the crisis in Venezuela, more than five million people left the country between 2017 and 2020. Around four million remained in South America, with Colombia, Peru and Ecuador the main host countries. Public agencies and humanitarian organisations are no longer able to provide people with the most basic necessities. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the economic and social situation dramatically. 

According to official figures, there are about 1.72 million people in Colombia who have fled Venezuela. Many vulnerable families and victims of the historical and current violent conflict already live in the host communities. Nevertheless, thousands of Venezuelans commute across the border on foot every day, seeking access to health services, food, casual labour and schooling, and placing an additional burden on the already strained provision of basic services. 

In Ecuador, there are more than 70,000 recognised refugees, more than 240,000 Colombians in need of international protection , and about 420,000 refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Due to their often irregular residence status, they are frequently denied basic state services, especially health care, schooling and access to the labour market, and many of them are victims of exploitation and violence.At the same time, these people have little possibility of effectively claiming their rights.

In Peru, there are officially around 1.04 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Of these, over 496,095 have applied for asylum, of whom only 1,282 have been granted it. The people with irregular residence status are invisible, so to speak, with no access to formal work, education or health services. They are forced to settle in neighbourhoods where conditions are precarious and where the majority of residents are vulnerable. Without regular residence status, they can neither find work nor access state services.


State and civil society stakeholders in the border regions and along the migration routes of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are better able to manage integration of the large numbers of refugees and migrants from Venezuela and Colombia – including with regard to labour market integration and income generation.



The project is helping host communities integrate refugees and migrants from Venezuela. The principle of ’do no harm’ applies: all those in need can receive support, regardless of whether they are Venezuelans, Colombians or vulnerable persons from the host communities. The project is improving access to health services and psychological support, schooling and legal advice for regularising residence status. Other important aspects are the promotion of peaceful coexistence, protection of victims of violence against women, and prevention of violence and exploitation. The project is creating employment within the framework of public-private partnerships, and promoting the creation of small businesses and microbusinesses either by Venezuelans or by people from the host communities.

The project is supporting communities on the northern border and along the migration route to Peru, with a focus on the protection of rights and on regular residence status, as well as integration and the promotion of peaceful coexistence. First and foremost, it advises social service providers, representatives of civil society and public authorities on more effective provision of employment, psychosocial support and training opportunities. It also promotes legal advice and psychological support for refugees and migrants and other disadvantaged groups. Activities are focused on young people, women and the indigenous population in the border region. A central component of this is the protection of victims of violence against women and of all types of exploitation.

In Peru, the project is working to regularise the residence status of the Venezuelans, with a particular focus on the vulnerable sections of the population. This is necessary to guarantee access to basic state services and the labour market. In addition to this, the project, together with civil society organisations and vocational training establishments, is helping the host communities to integrate the refugees and migrants. With the help of national partners, it is promoting peaceful coexistence and is committed to combating discrimination and xenophobia.

The EU is supporting the measures in all three countries with additional funding. The exchange of experiences regarding solutions to common challenges and cross-border initiatives in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru plays an important role.




  • 150,000 refugees and migrants in the department of Norte de Santander and up to 45,000 daily cross-border commuters from Venezuela have access to improved integration services or improved care services.
  • More than 5,000 refugees and migrants have recovered their emotional stability thanks to psychosocial support and created new prospects for their lives.
  • Just over 700 people have found formal employment – thanks to the targeted creation of new jobs through partnerships with the private sector.
  • 3,800 patients on the border with Venezuela have benefited from better emergency medical care, including treatment for COVID-19.
  • 60,000 uninsured people in the host communities and refugees and migrants in Colombia's border regions with Venezuela, Ecuador and Brazil have been tested for COVID-19 free of charge.


  • Sixteen local governments are implementing integration strategies to protect the rights of 250,000 refugees and migrants on the northern border. 
  • In 26 host communities on the northern border, 50,000 refugees and migrants and members of other vulnerable groups have been provided with free COVID-19 tests.
  • Over 5,000 people received food over several months during the lockdown. 
  • In 20 host communities, more than 1,500 young people compiled their ideas and demands into ‘youth agendas’ and are implementing them together with local governments.
  • More than 300 microbusinesses have been created and are receiving support from local governments and aid organisations, or government loans, to realise their business ideas.
  • •    1,400 victims of sexual violence throughout the border region are receiving better care and have access to three new protection facilities. 


  • 18,000 Venezuelans have received information and advice on regularising their residence status via a virtual platform.
  • 13,330 refugees and migrants in need have received food and hygiene items during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • 99 young people have completed training programmes to integrate them into the labour market.
  • 44 Venezuelan doctors have received assistance in getting their university degrees recognised and were able to start work in Peru immediately.

Last update: january 2021