Meet migrants where they are. Systems thinking and data provide the tools to coordinate actors to target services that tangibly improve the livelihoods of migrants and receptor communities. VRI and its partners do so through Intégrate Centers (a play on Spanish verbiage integrarse, to integrate oneself). The Centers are elevated one-stop-shops, drawing on learning from past holistic outreach and support experiences for vulnerable populations like the Comprehensive Victim Support and Reparation Unit, that put a wide range of integration services at migrants’ fingertips. Services include ready entry points for migrants to obtain regular migration status, seek employment, and engage with differentiated services like support to LGBTQI+, Indigenous, or differently abled persons. As a system, public and private actors like mayoral offices and business associations, civil society organizations, and USAID and other donor-funded programs work together to support the Centers. These partners raise awareness of the Centers through communications campaigns and service fairs with on-the-spot temporary protection status and social security registration, as well as COVID-19 vaccinations. In the first five months, the fairs alone reached 13,191 people.

Emerging Results for the International Community

Colombia has provided both humanitarian leadership in crisis but also laid the groundwork for a long-term scenario in which migration becomes not only a crisis to be managed, but a net positive for Colombia socially, culturally, and economically as it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. While progress on integration continues to unfold in Colombia, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has called the country’s steps to integration, “an extraordinary example to the region and world.” So far, data mapping, systems thinking, and intentional, differentiated service outreach have proven necessary – and effective – to promote integration. VRI will continue to offer up lessons and results to the development community to help promote inclusive approaches to migration worldwide.

Banner image caption: Representatives from gender- and vulnerable group-focused secretariats in Medellín, Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Cúcuta, and Medellín, USAID representatives, and VRI team members meet with Cúcuta Intégrate Center staff to review and strengthen gender and social inclusion activities. Photo by USAID/VRI.

Posts on the blog represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Chemonics.