The importance of telecommunications for Venezuelan refugees

Publication date: Mar 03, 2020 12:15 PM - Last modication date: Mar 05, 2020 05:48 PM
After almost two years of activities in Brazil in response to the Venezuelan Migration Crisis, our operations are evolving. The project ended in December 2019, but we are evaluating the possibility to implement a new project to a larger scale and even more adapted to the needs of Venezuelan refugees in Latin America.


Telecommunications are a crucial tool for refugees

“The calls are very useful here for us because they allow us to have contact with our relatives who are out there [in Venezuela], who stayed there, and through these calls, this gives us an opportunity to talk to them. This helps us a lot.” – Liseda, beneficiary of TSF’s humanitarian calling operations in Brazil.

The economic and social situation in Venezuela has only degraded since 2014, leaving people in delicate situations, lacking access to food and medicines: testimonials confirm parents having difficulties to feed their children. These difficult conditions, added to the high rate of violence and insecurity, forced over 4 million people to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.

However, some of these refugees are not able to flee with their entire family. Sometimes they have to flee alone, or just with their children, leaving their families and all connections behind. They arrive in a country like Brazil, that they do not know and where they do not speak the language. They need to apply for refugee status, to find a job, a home… and create a new life for them and their family.

For all these reasons our mission is so important for refugees. TSF's priority calls gave them the possibility to maintain the links with their relatives who remained in Venezuela or who “had to migrate, but to other countries, for example my oldest daughter is in Chile, my eldest son as well [...] and my brother is in Colombia”, Lizeth explains. They allowed people like Yirxon to find a job, people like Carolina to contact the kids left in Venezuela to let them know when she sends them money, or people like Antonio to find strength, joy and relief in the voice of his loved ones. They allowed many of them to apply for refugee status and finalise administrative procedures. They allowed thousands of vulnerable people in the pursuit of a better future to regain hope. 

Cooperation with local partners

We believe it is of the utmost importance to develop a collaboration with local partners. Our first operations have been carried out in Boa Vista in a centre supported by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The relevance of this action allowed us, thanks to a co-funding with the UNHCR, to expand our operations to other centres in Boa Vista as well as to other cities, namely Pacaraima and Manaus.

In addition, a partnership with the local NGO AVSI allowed the coordination of the operations until the end of the project. This type of cooperation is at the core of TSF values: we think that working with local partners is essential to allow for a long-term, effective response to a complex humanitarian crisis.

Giving a voice to 24,000 vulnerable people

In order to help as many people as possible, our activities covered 19 centres, supported also by mobile teams. This allowed 24,000 refugees to benefit from the calling operations and to contact their relatives.

During 20 months of operations, we allowed these vulnerable people to make a total of 153,000 calls, meaning 15,000 hours of calls. The evaluations we conducted showed that 96% of the beneficiaries considered their situation improved thanks to TSF’s action.

Even though they are useful to understand the importance of the operations carried out in support of Venezuelan refugees, these results are just numbers. The testimonials of Yirxon, Carolina, Antonio, David, and what all the other Venezuelans we helped in Brazil managed to do thanks to our operations show their qualitative impact, which is an essential indicator for TSF. However, the situation of Venezuelan people remains a priority and their information and communication needs still significant. We thus hope to once again help Venezuelan refugees and we are working hard to make it happen.