Record number of Venezuelans arrive in Peru: UN steps up response

16 June 2019

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has sent extra teams this week to the border between Peru and Ecuador to support the authorities, as an unprecedent number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants – over 15,000 – have entered Peru this week.

On Friday, over 8,000 Venezuelans crossed the border at Tumbes, the largest number ever recorded on a single day. Of them, 4,700 requested asylum in Peru, also an unprecedented number in one single day. 

“People are arriving in a more and more vulnerable situation,” said Federico Agusti, head of UNHCR in Peru.

“Some have been walking for 30 or 40 days through various countries in the region. We see people suffering from malnutrition or dehydration and people with medical problems. There are more and more families with children,” he explained. 

The Peruvian authorities have issued a statement that same day explaining that, due to this massive influx of refugees and migrants, a special contingency plan would be put in place, and Venezuelan refugees are now required to have a passport and a visa in order to enter the country. Until now, each Venezuelan was asked only for a basic document, such as an ID or an Andean Card to be allowed entry into Peru.

We see people suffering from malnutrition or dehydration and people with medical problems - Federico Agusti, UNHCR in Peru

The total number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in the country now stands at about 800,000. In total, to date, Peru has received over 280,000 asylum applications by Venezuelan citizens and given temporary residence permits to over 390,000.  

Peruvian authorities, UNHCR and its partners, including over a dozen NGOs at the border are working around the clock on the ground, to process the arrivals, providing humanitarian assistance, medical care, information, legal support to refugees and migrants on both sides of the border.

According to the UN refugee agency, Peru’s new visa requirements for Venezuelans are having an impact on Ecuador’s northern border with Colombia, through which 8,380 Venezuelans entered on Friday, according to the authorities.

The UN and its partners are also present there providing much needed humanitarian assistance, protection services, to save lives and alleviate suffering in support of the Ecuadorian Government and civil society groups.   

Give the scale of the crisis and the levels of need recorded, the UN calls on the international community to step up its support to countries like Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, that have been receiving the vast majority of the 4 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela, most of whom are in need of life-saving assistance. 

To date, the Regional Response Plan for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela, remains severely under-funded, with close to 79 per cent of funding requirements (US$ 580 million) still unmet.

This week, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, will be visiting Venezuela, from Wednesday to Friday, at the invitation of the Government. During her visit to the capital, Caracas, she will meet with President Nicolás Maduro Moros and several Government officials, will hold discussions with the President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, and will engage with victims of human rights violations and abuses and  civil society representatives.

 

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