WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
31 May 2019 | WOLA Statement

WOLA Joins in Regional Delegation to Washington to Push for Coordinated Response to Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees

Washington, DC—During the week of May 20, representatives from leading human rights organizations across the hemisphere convened in Washington, DC to meet with U.S. officials and push for a humane, collective, and regional response to the displacement crisis that has forced 3.7 million Venezuelans to flee their country. In advocacy meetings with key offices in the U.S. Congress and the Department of State, the delegation advanced proposals that call not only for the U.S. government to provide more resources for the regional response, but for countries across Latin America to adopt solutions that broaden access to regular status and essential services.

The delegation featured representatives from the Center for Human Rights at Andres Bello Catholic University in Venezuela, Missão Paz in Brazil, Dejusticia in Colombia, the National Coordinator of Human Rights of Peru (CNDDHH), the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). They led briefings in both the Senate and House of Representatives on May 22 before attending an evening event at the American University Washington College of Law, at which experts discussed the international legal standards for protecting migrants and refugees. On May 23, the delegation presented in a symposium at Georgetown University, where they guided a discussion on the regional displacement crisis. Members of the delegation then participated in a televised interview on NTN24, an international news channel with viewership throughout the Americas. To end the visit, the delegation met with officials in the U.S. Department of State to discuss the U.S.’s role in a potential regional response.

The participating organizations are united in the common goal of developing a lasting response coordinated by countries throughout the region to defend the rights of fleeing Venezuelans. We believe that while each country has its own unique set of political challenges, the entire region must commit to a joint set of minimum standards to meet the needs of migrants and refugees, including access to regular status, formal employment, education, and healthcare. Together we are working to develop a cohesive humanitarian response, resist xenophobic actions and policies, and establish clear guidelines for governments to identify and respond to the needs of migrants and refugees as they arrive in destination countries.