The Dominican Republic (DR) hosts the largest number of refugees and migrants in the sub-region, with 114,000 Venezuelans. This number is expected to increase to 120,944 by December 2021.
Many Venezuelans in the Dominican Republic lack regular migration status and face barriers in accessing basic services, financial institutions, and higher education. Lack of access to the formal labor market has led some Venezuelans to resort to risky coping mechanisms, including exchanging sex to meet their basic needs, putting them at risk of exploitation and abuse. . Venezuelans have the right to free primary and emergency health care and COVID-19 testing, but face challenges in accessing secondary and specialized health care, mental health and psychosocial support, as well as ” to sexual and reproductive health.
The country has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the sub-region, and its tourism-dependent economy has been affected. The closure of borders and businesses poses serious challenges for Venezuelans to access the country and has left them with limited livelihood options, leaving them vulnerable and in need of humanitarian assistance. Although the government provided financial support to informal workers and vulnerable families, around 87% of Venezuelans were unable to benefit from these programs due to their irregular status. Additionally, limited Venezuelan consular services prevent undocumented children from confirming Venezuelan nationality through jus sanguinis.
Over 60% of Venezuelans in the country are highly skilled, providing an opportunity for Venezuelans to contribute and stimulate key economic sectors. Labor laws in the Dominican Republic allow them to be employed without the risk or fear of detention, but many potential employers are unaware of work visa sponsorship and are unwilling to pay the substantial costs associated with it. Nonetheless, the newly elected government announced the need to show solidarity with Venezuelans. R4V partners are ready to provide support in the event that additional regularization methods are adopted for this population.