Q&A Webinar #14: Emerging field practices to COVID-19 in refugee contexts

Please see below the questions and comments from the audience. We invite you all to send your comments and let us know if you have any further questions on the topic.


Question 1: How do I know about the emerging practices to COVID-19 on Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh?

In relation to CBI, there is only limited emerging practice for COVID-19 as the provision of cash assistance to refugees is limited. It is more common for host populations.


Question 2: What are the main areas of work with Col Gov in terms of Social Protection?

In regard to social protection for Venezuelan migrants, the Government of Colombia (GOC) has been working intently on easing migrants’ access to the health system, the formal labour market, and social safety nets for highly vulnerable populations (v.g. SISBEN) under the same conditions applicable to Colombian nationals. To this end, the GOC has implemented novel regularization mechanisms and has secured access of migrant children into the public education system regardless of their migratory status.


Question 3: What are their expectations from UN agencies?

The GOC and the UN System have recently agreed on the terms of a new 4-year cooperation framework, of which migration is one of the three core areas of work comprising actions aimed at easing migrants’ access to basic services, advancing migrants’ socioeconomic integration, and creating conditions of citizen security.


Question 4: As UN agencies, how can we build a portfolio of services for the Govs, while we leverage from our fields of expertise?

By contributing to the outcomes and inputs included in the cooperation framework referred to above.


Question 5: To Mr Hernandez – Wonderful to hear about the SRSP nature of the Colombian SP system, especially Ingreso Solidario.  Hanna has mentioned programmes in Pakistan and Morocco in which eligibility is based on different selection criteria.  Is that the same for Colombia or are eligibility criteria the same for host and migrants?

Eligibility to Ingreso Solidario is based on not being included in other cash transfer programs or on being considered as highly vulnerable as per the SISBEN registry. Regular migrants can be included in the SISBEN registry (44,598 included to date) and, therefore, are eligible to Ingreso Solidario under the same conditions applicable to Colombian nationals. The number of migrants included in SISBEN, although considerable, is clearly insufficient in view of the estimated number of migrants currently residing in Colombia (1.8 million approx). This is a challenge the GOC is currently addressing.

Question 6: What are the Government's plans to increase regularization for over 1 million Venezuelans and support greater access to social protection systems as well as formal labour?

The GOC is aware that the temporary regularization mechanisms set up to date, which have made possible to regularize almost 800 thousand migrants, will be insufficient to address the expected inflow of migrants in the medium to long term. The GOC is currently exploring permanent regularization options applicable to large numbers of migrants, similar to the TPS scheme in the US.

Question 7: To Mr Hernandez – One of the things I've been thinking about from the Peru SP system is that it was originally made for poverty for rural populations. Also based on proxy-means testing (PMT) that Tania is describing.  This has meant that for the pandemic, it's been difficult to be shock-responsive, since the pandemic is coastal and urban.  There are general talks on the global level about reforming SP to make it a right for all (Universal Social Protection) and not just for poor people.  What are your thoughts on this given the recent experience of trying to 'ramp up' the system to respond? Is this possible and what might it take to reform ourselves towards a more rights-based system for all rather than a system for welfare?

Certainly, the rapid implementation of the Ingreso Solidario program has given ground to debates on the viability of making it permanent and of broadening its scope to turn it into some sort of Universal Basic Income scheme. Although it is highly unlikely that these discussions translate into actual policy implementation in the short term, the very fact that these topics have got into the agenda of policymakers and key decisionmakers in the public sector represents a major leap forward and makes it possible to envision a gradual transition to a universal social protection scheme in the medium to long term.

Question 8: In a situation where a considerable number of incoming Venezuelans are likely to stay in Colombia for a considerable period of time, what are the plans for exit/transition from this to other programmes? If possible, please also provide information about the M&E plans behind this operation (e.g. info about migrants staying post-COVID, etc.)

The programs presented are temporary and will end once their respective budgets are fully executed. Transition to other programs will be contingent on the availability of social registries accounting for migrants at the local level (currently in the works) and to additional regularization mechanisms.


Question 9: Cuáles han sido los mecanismos de convocatoria de las personas beneficiarias de las transferencias en Colombia, considerando las zonas remotas y situaciones de seguridad de este paìs? (From Karen Andrea Patiño Martinez)

Emergency Cash Transfer Programs amid the pandemic have been promoted through mass media campaigns and word-of-mouth strategies. Beneficiaries can cash-in their payments through banks with branches nationwide, including remote municipalities. Certainly, reaching these branches may still be challenging for some people in rural areas, hence the concurrent implementation of massive in-kind assistance programs.


Question 10: En que estrategias se han pensado para lograr esa actualizaciòn de los registros sociales en Colombia?

Regarding migrants from Venezuela, administrative registries at the local level appear to be the most expedite and cost-effective option. The recent experience of the municipality of Cali, where a 16+ thousand migrant registry was built from scratch in a few weeks, is a case in point. Centralized platforms for sociodemographic profiling are also under review.


Question 11: Does statistics institution collect data to monitor refugees’ situation in the labour market (unemployment, informality, poverty etc) during to COVID 19 times?

Yes, it does. DANE, Colombia’s Statistics Office, accounts for migrants in the Gran Encuesta Integrada de Hogares (Integrated Household Survey).           


Question 12: How does Colombian government do impact analyses of social protection programs for refugees?

Through the same systems applicable to Colombian nationals. The number of migrants currently registered in social protection programs is still small, primarily, because of regularization constraints and the ensuing restrictions for accessing the formal labor market.

Social Protection Approaches: