Peruvian Migratory Context
10% of the Peruvian population lives abroad
84% of foreigners residing in Peru in 2019 were Venezuelans
496,095 is the number of requests for refugee protection from Venezuelans received until the end of June 2020 in Peru
Source: Prepared from UNHCR data (2021).
Foreigners residing in Peru according to nationality (2019)
Applicants for refugee status of Venezuelan origin in Peru
This year's requests represent more than half of all requests for protection from Venezuelans in the world.
Legal framework for protection
and social inclusion
Peru has recently reformed legal regulations on migration matters ( Legislative Decree 1350 ; Supreme Decree 007-2017-IN ), which entered into force in 2017, and whose novelty lies in its human rights approach. For the protection of vulnerable groups, these regulations offer diverse migratory mechanisms (humanitarian and special migratory status) that in practice are difficult to achieve ( Blouin, 2021 ). Faced with the growing arrival of the Venezuelan population, the Government ordered the creation of the Temporary Permanence Permit (PTP), which was adopted three times to cover different periods of entry into the country: (i) the first included those who arrived until the 2 February 2017 ( Supreme Decree 002-2017-IN ); (ii) the second, until July 31, 2017 ( Supreme Decree 023-2017-IN ); and (iii) the third, until October 31, 2018 ( Supreme Decree 007-2018-IN ).
In October 2020, a new regulation was adopted that creates a new ad hoc mechanism for the migratory regularization of any foreign person with irregular migratory status. This norm, although it is not in force, responds to the need for regularization of those people who, after the interruption of the PTP, had no other way of regularization. Additionally, the regulations require that in order to regularize the population, they must pay the fine per day of irregular stay, which can represent a very high cost for a population with limited economic resources.
Likewise, the Refugee Law ( Law 27891 ) adopted in 2002 includes part of the expanded definition of the Cartagena Declaration and complies with international standards. However, in practice the expanded definition does not apply. (Blouin, 2021)
What impacts did the pandemic have on the migrant and refugee population?
The closure of borders generated forced immobility for a large part of the migrant population, and made it impossible to apply for asylum at land borders ( IDEHPUCP, 2020 ). At the beginning of 2021, the deployment of military forces on the border with Ecuador was reported, in a joint operation between both countries, to control and block the entry of migrants to Peru ( BBC News, 2021 ; DW, 2021 ; France24, 2021 ).
The office of the Special Commission for Refugees in Lima suspended attention to the public from February 2020 to June 2020. During this period, no new applications have been received, nor has new refugee applicant cards been issued ( Defensoría del Town, 2020 ). This situation was replicated at the national level, in the decentralized offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, after the declaration of the State of Emergency. On June 22, 2020, the reception of applications was restarted virtually, which implies an obstacle for applicants who do not have internet access ( IDEHPUCP, 2020 ).
On the other hand, migration issued a rule to suspend the terms of sanctions, extend the terms of validity of migratory qualities and guarantee access to some migratory procedures through the virtual platform of Migrations ( IDEHPUCP, 2020 ).
The informal sector of the Peruvian economy has been the most affected by the generalized quarantine in the country, and it is where a large number of Venezuelans were inserted. Likewise, the companies chose to fire those workers who did not have an employment contract, within this group were Venezuelan refugees and migrants, who 89% had such a condition before the pandemic ( Ombudsman, 2020 ). In the midst of this, the government authorized the hiring of foreign health professionals , which allowed Venezuelan doctors to legalize their university degrees with the help of international organizations ( IDEHPUCP, 2020 ).
The Ombudsman's Office has dealt with cases of Venezuelans who have been victims of the suspension of basic services (water or electricity), as an act of hostility that seeks to evict them, as well as threats, withholding of documents and even acts of violence by landlords. Approximately 88.5% of the queries received between March and May by refugees and migrants of this nationality had eviction as the predominant issue ( Ombudsman, 2020 ). On the other hand, the impossibility of opening a greater number of shelters or increasing the capacity of existing ones has meant that the population in a situation of special vulnerability and without contact networks cannot find a solution to their housing problems in a context of a pandemic. ( Jave, 2020 ).
Although official figures are lacking, the media have reported that, between March and May 2020, approximately 31,000 Venezuelans had left Peru after the first COVID-19 case was registered in the country ( Ombudsman, 2020 ; IDEHPUCP, 2020 ).
The Peruvian State has become irresponsible in the face of the obligation to guarantee the rights of the migrant and refugee population in its territory. This has generated the invisibility of said group and institutional discrimination, which appears in the official discourse of the State itself ( Presidency of the Republic of Peru, 2020 ).
Palliative measures taken
during the pandemic
Since before the pandemic, the migrant and refugee population was not included in Peru's social protection policies.
The Government implemented mitigation measures through the delivery of bonds ("I stay at home" Bond, Emergency Decree No. 027-2020 ; Independent Bond, Emergency Decree No. 033-2020 ; Rural Bond, Emergency Decree No. 042-2020 , Universal Family Bonus, Emergency Decree No. 052-2020 ). However, the migrant and refugee population was excluded from this aid.
In general, the management of the emergency has been delegated entirely to international organizations (mainly UNHCR and IOM), churches and civil society. The response, although not enough to respond to such a massive and urgent demand, has been immediate and humanitarian aid programs have been implemented, such as the delivery of baskets, vouchers, hygiene kits, lodging in shelters, etc.
Funding has come mainly from international cooperation and the churches, which have made it possible to implement services or, in many cases, create new ones. These forms of aid, although they have not been discriminatory in terms of documents, have privileged people who were in states of "greater" vulnerability. Therefore, these supports have not reached the entire population in a situation of mobility.
“The protection of the rights of migrants and refugees during the pandemic”
mg. in right
Pontifical Catholic University of Peru
mg. in Anthropology
institute for democracy and
Pontifical Catholic University
mg. in European Union Studies and Law
Doctoral Candidate in Law
This and other publications from our group are supported by the FORD/LASA Special Projects program [Grant # FL-15-01].
This and other publications of our group are supported by the FORD/LASA Special Projects [Grant # FL-15-01].