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Jimmy Graham on a zoom call testifying before Canada's SDIR

Testimony before Canada's Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development

December 7, 2020

On Wednesday, September 23, Jimmy Graham appeared before Canada's Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development at a virtual meeting examining “The Impact of COVID-19 on Displaced Persons from Venezuela and Myanmar.” Jimmy Graham is a former CGD research assistant who is now a consultant on CGD and Refugees International's Let Them Work initiative.

A note from Assistant Director and Senior Associate for Policy Outreach for Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy Helen Dempster: "Venezuelan forced migrants living in Colombia and Peru have been disproportionately affected by the economic effects of COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, Venezuelans were more likely than their hosts to be working in sectors like food services and retail trade, which have been hit hardest, leading to widespread loss of income and livelihoods. This outcome is primarily due to the restrictions Venezuelans face in fully participating in the labor market, especially at higher levels within the formal sector. Going forward, host countries should ensure Venezuelans are economically included in the labor market and in pandemic responses, and donors should help them in these efforts."

From the testimony:

Over the past year my colleagues at the Center for Global Development and Refugees International have conducted a series of studies examining the economic effect of COVID-19 on refugees around the world. Two of our reports look specifically at the economic effect of the pandemic on Venezuelan refugees in Colombia and Peru. And what we found in our research is that Venezuelans in these countries have been disproportionately impacted by the economic effects of the pandemic. Specifically, we found that prior to the outbreak, Venezuelans were far more likely to be working in the sectors that have been affected by the lockdowns, such as food services and retail trade. So it's likely that they're losing their jobs and sources of income at especially high rates. Compounding these challenges, we know that refugees were already earning much less prior to the pandemic.

So, for example, prior to the outbreak in Colombia, Colombian citizens were earning about 43 percent more than Venezuelan refugees on average, despite the fact that many Venezuelans are highly-educated. And Venezuelans were 17 percentage points more likely to be working in sectors that were highly-impacted by the pandemic.

You can watch the testimony here.

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