With a roof, food and solidarity, the Venezuelan people in the Caribbean are welcomed

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BARRANQUILLA, COLOMBIA – Several social organizations have come together to contribute and receive the exodus of migrants who arrive daily from the neighboring country.

For more than six months, organizations such as Techo Colombia and Acceso Colombia in partnership with ABACO, World Central Kitchen and Wayuu Taya, have joined together to welcome the Venezuelan refugees and migrants that are crossing the Colombian border.

According to updated figures from UNHCR, 1,408,055 Venezuelan refugees and migrants have arrived to Colombia, 5,303 people have applied for political asylum and 676,093 residency and stay permits have been issued.

According to the most recent local figures issued by the Colombian Government’s office of Border Management, the Atlantic department has the third most migrants in the country with a population of 125,000 people from Venezuela. Barranquilla, the capital, has only 90 thousand migrants.

A blue house

In the village of La Playa, which is one of the areas in Barranquilla, which has a large concentration of Venezuelan, Colombian-Venezuelans and Colombian migrants, a blue house was built with the help of volunteers from Techo Colombia, with the purpose of serving as a community headquarters that will benefit this population.

“Taking into account their needs, such as having a space for recreation, learning, care and protection, we have gathered efforts to offer this vulnerable sector an alternative, building a more resilient, safe, healthy, sustainable environment, and self-sustaining, that promotes integration and social cohesion, ”Juan Viloria, a member of the Venezuelan organization in Barranquilla, told PUBLIMETRO.

The blue house was created as a community protection space by the TECHO organization with resources from the IsraAID agency, thanks to the local Mayor’s Office of Riomar and the Venezuelan association in Barranquilla.

Everyone comes together

Since April, the organization Acceso Colombia has been supporting Venezuelan refugees and migrants in the Simón Bolívar neighborhood in Barranquilla through food donations to kitchens. These food donations are a valuable contribution to the various efforts throughout for the common good of the newcomers from Venezuela.

“Acceso Colombia’s support has been fundamental in order to continue with the task of serving more than one hundred Venezuelan citizens with nightly hot dinners and allowing these migrants to have a meeting point in Barranquilla,” said Sandra Vesga, coordinator of the kitchen in Barranquilla

Acceso Colombia is a social enterprise in the agricultural sector that sells fruits and vegetables from smallholder farmers to large buyers. It was founded more than five years ago by Canadian philanthropist Frank Giustra, former US president Bill Clinton and Mexican businessman Carlos Slim (Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership initiative – CGEP) and operates in the departments of Boyacá and Córdoba. Its objective is to contribute to rural development and create a stable source of income for farmers. The company sells directly to customers such as Grupo Éxito, Jerónimo Martins, Olímpica, Sodexo and other retailers in Colombia.

“Thanks to a generous donation from the Giustra Foundation, through its philanthropist founder Frank Giustra, Acceso began supplying fruits and vegetables to the Food Bank Association of Colombia (ABACO) and World Central Kitchen (WCK) in April who then deliver prepared meals to Venezuelan migrants in Cúcuta, Barranquilla and La Guajira,” Juan Diego Rueda, representative of Acceso Colombia, told PUBLIMETRO.

With this project, Acceso Colombia seeks to provide food to migrants at critical border points and supports them in their transition as they search for new life opportunities in Colombia.

“Acceso Colombia makes weekly deliveries at strategic points in each of the target cities, where the partner organizations collect the products, transfer it to their facilities and use it to cook the food that they then deliver to the beneficiaries. The products delivered must meet the needs of each kitchen for a week. We deliver around 12 tons of fruits and vegetables weekly,” detailed Rueda.

To date, Acceso has delivered more than 150 tons of fruits and vegetables to partner organizations, which in turn have prepared more than 1.5 million meals for thousands of Venezuelan migrants in Colombia.

The figure: “In the department of the Atlantic, 125 thousand people from Venezuela have arrived.”

The quote: “We deliver prepared portions to Venezuelan migrants in Cúcuta, Barranquilla and La Guajira,” Juan Diego Rueda, representative of Acceso Colombia.

Original article
Author: Lina Robles
Original date of article: September 13, 2019