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There are 5.5 million displaced Venezuelans around the world, with one-third living in Colombia. The Government of Colombia extended a relatively generous welcome, providing legal residency and work permits and allowing them to access basic services. However, a wide range of legal, administrative, structural, and social barriers prevents many Venezuelans from being able to fully meet their needs or realize their rights in practice. As a result, many Venezuelans are struggling to make progress toward economic inclusion, stuck in lower-paid and more informal work. Many of the same issues also confront the Colombian host population, and COVID-19 has exacerbated these struggles.
This case study is part of the “Let Them Work” initiative by Refugees International (RI) and the Center for Global Development (CGD). It outlines the barriers Venezuelans face in Colombia to economic inclusion, the impacts of these barriers, and the steps that the Government of Colombia, international organizations, donors, and the private sector could take to overcome them.