BY THE NUMBERS
Venezuelans fled since early 2017
Venezuelan refugees currently in Peru
Asylum applications in Peru in 2017
Venezuelans entering Peru daily
Source: UNHCR, Venezuela Situation Appeal, 2018
USAID Venezuela Regional Crisis Fact Sheet #2
Venezuela was once the most prosperous country in Latin America. Over the past decade, mismanagement of state funds and the collapse of a one-dimensional economy heavily dependent on oil exports have sent the country into a downward spiral. The humanitarian situation in Venezuela has been deteriorating since 2014, with alarming rates of extreme poverty, malnutrition and one of the highest homicide rates in Latin America. The Venezuelan currency, the Bolivar, has been rendered practically useless, with inflation reaching 2,600 percent in 2017, drying up pensions and making salaries of even relatively well-paid government employees and qualified professionals insufficient to cover the basic needs of their families.
With no end to the crisis in sight, Venezuelans are leaving their country in record numbers. According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 1.5 million Venezuelans have migrated over the past two years. This level of movement is on par with refugee levels of Syrians fleeing war to neighboring countries and Rohingya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh. The majority of Venezuelan refugees have settled in towns on the Colombia and Brazilian borders, such as Cúcuta and Boa Vista, frequently traveling back and forth to bring money home.
Although not a border country with Venezuela, Peru is also seeing a rapidly increasing number of refugees, with approximately 1,000 arriving each day. Border crossing points in Peru are not equipped to receive large influxes of refugees, who are often in poor health and are in need of immediate medical care, food, water and hygiene supplies. The risk of sexual and gender-based violence, human trafficking and exploitation are also a growing concern for local and national authorities.
INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE EFFORTS
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is expanding operations in Colombia over the next two months and is working with local organizations to set up additional reception centers for refugees. In northern Peru, UNHCR reception centers that were built to receive 200-300 refugees are trying to manage 1,000-1,200 arrivals per day.
Several large humanitarian organizations have launched responses to the crisis, including the International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps and Catholic Relief Services. However, so far the response has been focused on border areas where refugees are arriving, leaving the urban areas where most seek to settle neglected and lacking basic reception services to facilitate their integration into society.