The social and economic integration of Venezuelan people who have arrived in Peru represents a significant challenge for the national authorities, but one which also entails huge potential for local development. Capitalizing on this potential means creating the conditions for Venezuelan people to exercise their rights, satisfy their basic needs and strengthen their contribution to their host communities.
Nearly 1.5 million Venezuelans have arrived in Peru since 2017. Local communities and authorities have responded effectively to this recent wave of migration, but the work is still ongoing. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities across Peru and increased the vulnerability of the migrant and refugee populations.
As of December 2022, an estimated 950 Venezuelans enter Peru every day through the northern border in Tumbes and around 450 Venezuelans leave Peru daily, through this same border. Fifteen out of every 100 report having suffered violence on their way to Peru. The vast majority live in poverty and without access to basic services, such as health and education. Responding to migration challenges and the urgent needs of vulnerable migrant and refugee populations is a human rights issue. Beyond responding to these immediate needs, the longer-term social and economic integration of migrant and refugee communities is an important development opportunity for host communities across Peru.
In 2021 for example, Venezuelan migrants and refugees generated a net fiscal impact of S/139 million soles (around 36 million dollars at the current exchange rate) in Peru, according to a study by Cavenpe and Kas. This contribution could have been greater without the various barriers to their economic integration and entry into the labour market. Many of the migrants and refugees arriving in Peru are young and educated, which, according to the World Bank could boost the country’s economic growth and increase investment and labour productivity.
As the UN Resident Coordinator in Peru, I have led the UN country team’s response to this growing challenge and have worked in close cooperation with the Peruvian authorities and its partners to provide emergency assistance, and protection to Venezuelan migrants and refugees and promote their integration into host communities.
The well-being of migrants and refugees is a priority for all
Supporting refugee and migrant communities has been a key priority for the UN country team in Peru over the last few years, which is also reflected in the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (2022-2026), signed last year with the Government of Peru. The Cooperation Framework provides a roadmap to guide the work of the entire UN country team in Peru over the next five years and ensures that we coordinate effectively with the national authorities on joint priorities like the protection of migrants and refugees. Supporting these vulnerable communities was also a key consideration when developing the Socioeconomic Response and Recovery Plan from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
On the external front, I have convened agencies, funds and programmes across the UN country team together to work closely with stakeholders from Government, civil society, business and other cooperating partners to identify critical issues facing refugee and migrant communities and create collaborative spaces to address them, including for example, through the Refugee and Migrant Working Group (GTRM), the Intersectoral Working Group on Migration Management, and the National Humanitarian Network.
By engaging with the national authorities through regular high-level meetings and participating in international forums, I have led the UN country team in scaling up our joint advocacy work and resource mobilization. Thanks to this enhanced coordination and dialogue with the national authorities, the UN in Peru has helped meet the urgent needs of the Venezuelan migrant and refugee population through both humanitarian initiatives in key areas such as health, education and social protection, as well as through various development interventions from supporting new businesses ideas, providing technical assistance and support for documentation to helping increase capacity in key public services.
As a result of these joint efforts from UN agencies– including UNHCR, IOM, UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNESCO and ILO – who are addressing different angles of a complex issue, we, the UN country team in Peru have assisted over 500,000 people Venezuelan refugees and migrants in 2021, including 50,000 Peruvians from the host communities.
Most recently in November 2022, an UN international mission was deployed to the border between Peru and Ecuador to strengthen the common analysis to identify cross-border challenges and alternative solutions. The international mission identified common risks and opportunities between the two countries.
To support the planning and coordination of this mission, I worked in close cooperation with the Resident Coordinator in Ecuador, Lena Savelli, as well as with regional Directors of DPPA and DCO and the Peruvian authorities.
For our UN team in Peru, working in coordination with local authorities and humanitarian partners has enabled us to reach those who need it most and thus promote inclusive and sustainable development, which leaves no one behind.
The original version of this blog post was written by Igor Garafulic, Resident Coordinator in Peru. This edited version was produced with the editorial support of the Development Coordination Office (DCO).
For more information on the UN’s work in Peru, please visit Peru.un.org.