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Venezuelans suffer from food and information insecurity

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On May 3, 2023, the Global Network Against Food Crises, an international alliance of the UN, the European Union, and governmental and non-governmental organizations working together on the matter, released the Global Report on Food Crises[1]. The document concludes that around 258 million people in 58 countries and territories are experiencing a “crisis” level of food insecurity or worse in 2022, compared to 193 million people in 53 countries and territories in 2021. This is the highest number in the seven-year history of the report, which measures the degree of food insecurity using a Phased Rating (IPC) made up of five levels: None (Phase 1), Stress (Phase 2), crisis (phase 3), emergency (phase 4) and catastrophe (phase 5).

In Latin America and the Caribbean, 17.8 million people, equivalent to 27% of the population analyzed, are exposed to high levels of food insecurity in 8 countries. According to the report, four countries registered data gaps, which are Cuba, Ecuador (only residents), Peru (regarding residents, refugees and migrants) and Venezuela. In the Venezuelan case, an additional concern is reported: “the epicentre of the migrant crisis in the region, did not have any publicly available and nationally endorsed food insecurity data available in 2022.” This situation contrasts openly with the information available in countries such as Colombia and Ecuador that do report food insecurity, including about the Venezuelan population in their territories. According to the report, the lack of capacities of the governments of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru to attend to about 75% of Venezuelan refugees and migrants of the general total in the midst of global economic impacts, motivated them to request external assistance in 2022, which is why they were considered for inclusion as food-insecure countries for the first time.

The document also expresses that Venezuelan mobility is one of the triggers of food insecurity at the regional level. “A significant cause of the regional increase in the number of people in IPC Phase 3 or above, particularly since 2018, is the escalation of the humanitarian crisis in Haiti and inclusion of estimates for refugees and migrants from Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of”. In this regard, it is noted that the Venezuelan population continues to leave the country ” driven by a challenging political, socioeconomic and human rights situation.” Likewise, it indicates that by the end of 2022, 6.03 million refugees and migrants reside in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The record of the situation of Venezuelan migrants and refugees is evidenced by factors such as worsening food insecurity, together with limited access to water and hygiene and medical care, which together constitute a nutritional challenge, in addition to the increase of the cost of living and the high levels of poverty. In contrast, the information on the situation of people in Venezuela is absolutely opaque. The lack of access to information is one of the structural problems of the humanitarian and human rights crisis in the country. A 2022 study by NGO Espacio Publico indicates that, even after the enactment of an access to information law in 2021, a high level of opacity in the management of information in Venezuela remains, dating back at least to 2007. In 2022, through 79 requests for information made to different regulated entities, 66 were received (83.54%), while 13 were rejected (16.46%). However, of the requests received, the organization reveals that 65 received no response (98.48%)[2].

The food insecurity situation is serious in Venezuela. Migrants and refugees are an eloquent indicator of this. In contrast to the report of the World Network Against Food Crisis, on January 18, 2023, the United Nations Regional Overview of Food Insecurity and Nutrition – Latin America and the Caribbean 2022[3] was released, which reports that “in South America, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had the highest prevalence of undernourishment (22.9 percent), which in absolute numbers equals 6.5 million people (…) hunger notably increased, by 18.4 percentage points, in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, or 5 million more hungry people between the 2013–2015 and 2019–2021 periods”. There it is also clearly expressed that the levels of emaciation or acute malnutrition higher than 3% include, among the countries, Venezuela, with 4.1%.

AlertaVenezuela regrets the lack of information from Venezuela for the Global Report on Food Crises, which is a key barrier for the understanding of its complex humanitarian emergency; however, it also regrets the lack of analysis and positioning from the report and from the international organizations that support it in this regard. Not only are there independent, accurate, and credible reports on food insecurity in the country, but in the face of such a serious and prolonged situation in Venezuela and outside its territory, especially in Latin America, the assessment of a country cannot be left aside by alleging the absence of official data. The opacity is part of the problem and must be condemned along with all its negative impacts.