HIAS in Venezuela

Founded: 2007
Staff: 140
Country Director: Marcel Navas
Office LocationsCaracas, Apure, Maracaibo, Machiques, Puerto Ayacucho, San Antonio, San Cristobal, Barinas, Santa Elena de Uairen, Puerto Ordaz.


The economic situation in Venezuela has led to significant movement of people to neighboring countries and beyond. Venezuela currently hosts 8,463 recognized refugees and 142 asylum-seekers, mainly of Colombian nationality. UNHCR estimates that 115,000 additional Colombians are in need of international protection. HIAS continues to attend to the local population who do not have access to basic services, providing them access to health, food, and hygiene kits, as well as psychosocial services.


Even as many Venezuelans are fleeing the country, HIAS continues to identify an average of 81 new individuals to assist each month. HIAS assists asylum seekers and vulnerable members of the local population, including those with significant legal and protection needs; single-parent households; survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV); unaccompanied and separated children; the elderly; the LGBTQ population; and those with chronic illnesses and disabilities. HIAS provides clients with psychosocial care services, protection, legal accompaniment, and support through the development and strengthening of technical capacities with an emphasis on food security. Additionally, HIAS reinforces local integration by serving vulnerable Venezuelans together with the refugees living in their neighborhoods and supports community development initiatives. ​


The guiding principle of HIAS’ work is to encourage self-sufficiency and empowerment and tap into existing resources in host and refugee communities. 

HIAS is implementing WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) projects in eight states; the objective is to improve the access to clean water for vulnerable people through the recovery of spaces, providing basic toilets, and good hygiene practices. HIAS is also working with UNICEF on the Everyone to School, Everyone Protected project through which HIAS seeks to reduce the risk levels of children and teenagers who are outside the formal education system. The program is reintroducing school as a protection mechanism and also provides schools with tools to promote the emotional well-being of children, youth, and teachers in the context of the economic, political, and social crisis experienced by Venezuelans. 

HIAS developed a GBV prevention, guidance, and response program and leads case management services within the framework of the Regional Network of Safe Spaces with the support of UNHCR to identify cases and provide services to survivors of GBV. HIAS also provides psychosocial assistance, distribution of health and hygiene kits, sensitization sessions, and training to local organizations.

Psychosocial Services

The majority of refugees arrive in Venezuela with a history of exposure to threats and direct violence and forced recruitment into gangs or militias. HIAS has adopted a multi-layered model to improve the mental health and psychosocial well-being of refugees. 
For example, HIAS collaborates with vulnerable refugees (particularly SGBV survivors) to design and carry out cultural and recreational activities and create safe, welcoming spaces that engage existing support systems  in their communities. 
Legal Services
Only about 5% of refugees in Venezuela are formally recognized as refugees with CNR or UNHCR. Working with UNHCR, CNR, and other partners, HIAS empowers asylum seekers to secure protection and long-term legal status, including access to necessary legal information to understand their rights and access services.
Livelihood Services
HIAS serves at-risk refugees by providing vocational training and opportunities to pursue life-sustaining livelihoods projects including urban agriculture and community gardens. Additionally, HIAS provides assistance payments for certain vulnerable families that will provide urgent basic needs including food, medical and maternity care, shelter, and costs related to obtaining legal documentation.

HIAS’s services are free. If someone tries to charge you for services claiming they represent HIAS, please report it at our confidential email address: ethics@hias.org. HIAS has a zero-tolerance policy on fraud and corruption. 

For any other inquiries please email us at info@hias.org.