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UNHCR scales up response as record number of Venezuelans arrive in Peru

A woman and man sits on the curb of the street while feeding a toddler milk from a carton, behind them is a crowd of people lined up in front of a white wall with windows and stacks of luggage are piled all around

A Venezuelan family waiting to enter Peru from Ecuador at the border point near Tumbes on June 14, 2019. © UNHCR/Helene Caux

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has sent extra teams to the border between Peru and Ecuador to support the authorities to deal with an unprecedented number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants entering Peru.

Peruvian authorities announced new visa requirements for Venezuelans starting on Saturday 15 June. On Friday, over 8,000 Venezuelans crossed the border at Tumbes, the largest number ever recorded on a single day. Of them, 4,700 lodged asylum claims in Peru, also an unprecedented number.

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

“People are arriving in a more and more vulnerable situation,” said Federico Agusti, UNHCR’s Representative 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.”

Peruvian authorities at the border are working 24 hours a day to process the arrivals. UNHCR and its partners are also working around the clock on the ground, providing humanitarian and health assistance, information and legal support to refugees and migrants on both sides of the border.

Peru’s new visa requirements for Venezuelans are also having an impact on Ecuador’s northern border with Colombia, through which 8,380 Venezuelans entered yesterday, according to the authorities. UNHCR and its partners are also present there providing much needed humanitarian assistance and protection and supporting the Ecuadorian government and civil society.

UNHCR 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 humanitarian assistance.

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Originally published by UNHCR on 15 June 2019