Efforts must be continued to strengthen the protection environment for vulnerable groups, including returnees, who continue to require protection to avoid negative consequences on their physical and mental well-being and to guarantee the access of these groups to basic social and protection services - including psychosocial care and legal assistance. The closure of borders continues to limit opportunities for people who depend on cross-border mobility as a coping strategy to stock up on food, medicine, goods and to access services. In the state of Táchira, some partners have reported the smuggling of medicines and basic necessities purchased in Colombia at a high price. This, together with the increase in needs, especially in terms of food security, increases the adoption of negative coping strategies that deepen the risks of contagion and exploitation. In July, the number of people affected by COVID-19 increased significantly, with high transmissibility in Greater Caracas and the states of La Guaira and Miranda. Protection risks for children and adolescents in these states have increased with the quarantine measures, since stressful situations and confined family environments may increase violence, exploitation and abuse, especially for the most vulnerable groups.
In July, members of the Protection Cluster reached a total of 134,935 women, men, children and adolescents with activities throughout all 23 states and the Capital District. The states where the Protection cluster reached the most beneficiaries were Miranda (35,692), Zulia (30,247), Apure (14,979), Bolívar (11,242) and the Capital District (7,534). 1,172 adults and elderly persons at risk were reached with specialized services, including psychosocial care and legal assistance. Some 109 adults benefited from access to legal documentation, and 414 people with specific needs benefited from material assistance. Similarly, some 8,823 people received training in matters of prevention and mitigation of protection risks. Through strengthening the capacities of institutions in the states of Apure, Bolívar and Zulia, some 12,673 people benefited from material supplies that allow officials to ensure the rights of people with specific needs in those states. In July, some 853 girls, adolescents and adult women benefited from response services to Gender-Based Violence (GBV), including case management services (264), legal support (39) and individual psychosocial assistance (550). A total of 11,109 children, adolescents and adults benefited from GBV prevention activities, including the delivery of dignity kits that reached a total of 2,703 girls and adult women in 17 Comprehensive Social Care Points (PASI) in the states of Apure, Bolívar, Táchira and Zulia, and training on prevention and mitigation of GBV (8,406). Similarly, 698 civil servants and officials from State institutions were trained in areas of prevention and mitigation of GBV, thus strengthening their response capacities to GBV. A total of 5,417 children and adolescents at risk (mostly between 12 and 17 years old) and their caregivers benefited from individual and group psychosocial support activities. 41,264 girls and boys under 3 months of age were granted birth certificates in hospitals (no civil birth records were reported) and a total of 6,758 affected and at-risk children and adolescents benefitted from administrative services and child protection programs. In addition, 45,570 people from the community were trained on issues of child and adolescent protection (including the Protection Guide "Protege") and 124 people from State institutions working in areas relating to children and adolescents benefited from materials and training to prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of children.
Persons with disabilities represented only one per cent of all persons receiving protection assistance in July. To address this gap, an inter-sectoral working group is being established under the coordination of the Protection Cluster and its partner CONSORVEN with a view to strengthen the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Humanitarian Programming Cycle in 2021. It is necessary for different clusters to guarantee the availability of multi-sectoral response services to GBV, including ensuring the provision of spaces for survivors of GBV, the inclusion of survivors and people at risk of GBV in cash transfer programs (CBT / TM), the mitigation of negative coping mechanisms, which have increased during the pandemic, the provision of sexual and reproductive health services that include distributing contraceptive methods and offering pre, postnatal and delivery care. It is essential to identify alternative forms of care for returnees and vulnerable communities based on the level of access of humanitarian actors to PASIs. The implementation of activities on the ground is made even more complex due to challenges in public services, including difficulties for mobility between the different municipalities due to the lack of fuel. In this sense, strengthening response services for children and adolescents, including through Protection Councils and Municipal Councils and strengthening the capacities of officials is paramount.