UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, reinforced its response at crucial border points in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia this week as thousands of refugees and migrants from Venezuela rushed into Peru ahead of a deadline for seeking Temporary Stay Permits.
On Wednesday, the number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants entering Peru from Ecuador at the main Tumbes border crossing peaked at more than 6,700 people in a single day, more than three times the level of just two weeks ago. Peru is now home to an estimated half a million Venezuelans.
Venezuelans crossing into Ecuador from Colombia via the Rumichaca and San Miguel border crossings also increased in October. Some 97,500 arrivals were registered over the course of the month.
The main reason for the surge in arrivals to Peru seems to have been a 31 October deadline for applying for a Temporary Stay Permit. This permit gives Venezuelans the right to work in Peru and access to health and education services. The Peruvian authorities announced that only those Venezuelans who entered the country before 31 October 2018 would be allowed to apply. Those eligible will be able to submit applications until December. Over 100,000 Venezuelans have already obtained the Temporary Stay Permit.
Earlier this week, Venezuelans waited in line for two to three days to complete the required border formalities, including immigration procedures and mandatory vaccinations. Thousands of people were sleeping in the open and many required medical assistance and food. The Peruvian authorities, UNHCR and its partners worked to quickly scale-up the response. In addition, strong coordination is in place between UNHCR offices in Peru and Ecuador to respond to the urgent needs of arriving Venezuelans.