Refugee Housing Units provide safety and dignity to Venezuelans in need

Days at the refugee camp may seem long for her parents, but Victoria enjoys playing for hours with her stuffed best friend. The teddy bear is one of the few possessions her family carried with them when they left Venezuela to escape the country’s increasing violence and food shortages.

Hunger had affected the whole family, especially Victoria’s older sister, 13-year-old Crisbelles, who suffers from cerebral palsy and requires special medical care.


The family walked for days until they finally reached safety. In Brazil, thanks to the generosity of USA for UNHCR’s donors and the Brazilian government, they received food, medicine and a Refugee Housing Unit.

The Refugee Housing Unit is a self-standing, sustainable and durable shelter, that was designed through a collaboration with UNHCR, the social enterprise Better Shelter and the IKEA Foundation. Refugee Housing Units are a safer and more dignified housing option for families forced to flee their homes who must stay in exile for years. Each unit has panels to make up bedrooms, a kitchen area, a lockable door and a LED lamp which provides more than six hours of light.

For families like Victoria’s, it is a private space where they can take care of Crisbelles and recover from the trauma they have endured.


In recent years, nearly 4 million Venezuelans have taken refuge in neighboring countries across Latin America and the Caribbean to escape the crisis afflicting the country. In Brazil, the “Operation Welcome” and “Interiorization” programs, run by federal and local authorities in coordination with UNHCR, have provided food, shelter, medical care, documentation and livelihood opportunities to tens of thousands of new arrivals in desperate need of assistance and protection. 


As the coronavirus pandemic accelerates, vulnerable families who have fled Venezuela face additional challenges. Many depend on daily wages to cover basic needs -such as shelter, food and healthcare- and their precarious living conditions make basic sanitation and social distancing difficult. 

The UN Refugee Agency, in coordination with local partners, has implemented several prevention and response activities to ensure Venezuelans have adequate access to information, clean water, shelter and essential hygiene products. It is also working with national and local authorities to set up observation and isolation spaces for potential positive COVID-19 cases and promoting the inclusion of vulnerable families in national healthcare programs. 

Help protect Venezuelan families...

Donate today and help us deliver lifesaving medical assistance, clean water and protection kits to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus. Your support can make a difference in the lives of vulnerable Venezuelan families -and displaced people around the world- who are at great risk of contracting the disease.

Apr 3 2020
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