2019 was a year of global refugee crisis: 70 million people displaced from their homes and spilling into neighboring countries. Credit unions were called upon by their communities to help settle and provide a future for them. 2020 is the year of the global COVID-19 crisis. Again, credit unions step up to support their members’ and their communities’ ability to survive the economic impact of the crisis.
Immediate assistance includes food and shelter relief. Credit Unions in Peru and Ecuador committed to help Venezuelan refugees find a lasting solution through integration into the local economy. Professional certification and labor skill job matching provide longer-term stability. Credit unions provide refugees with a place to save, access credit and build assets.
In Ecuador, the COVID-19 pandemic led to reports of bodies left in the streets of Guayaquil to be picked up by trucks in the morning. Today, Peru suffers the second highest COVID-19 death toll in Latin America. A large proportion of the victims are refugees. Both countries have locked down. The governments provide economic support for their citizens but there is none for the Venezuelan refugees. Without the assets to support themselves, they work in the manual front-line jobs with little protection. Those who have medical backgrounds are hired to provide front line service to the COVID-19 victims.
Our Peruvian and Ecuadorian colleagues maintained steadfast in their commitment to integrate the refugees through the crisis. Your support enabled us to establish a partnership with USAID and the Peruvian and Ecuadoran credit unions to deepen the economic integration of the refugees through credit unions. We tackle the challenge in a post COVID-19 world where travel is restricted and face-to-face meetings are unsafe. Communications and outreach exploit new means of social media communication, virtual gatherings and digital delivery.
Thank you for your support in making a difference in the lives of these people caught at the nexus of two global crises.
President and Chief Executive Officer
World Council of Credit Unions