The record number of Venezuelans arriving in Peru seems to be the result of new restriction on immigration.
According to media reports, at the conclusion of last week, thousands of Venezuelans rushed to Peru’s northern border in hopes of entering the Andean country before it imposes tough immigration requirements.
The economic and humanitarian crisis in the country —in many ways the biggest such catastrophe currently plaguing the globe— hasn’t only hit Venezuelans, but neighboring countries as well. The desperate situation of Venezuela has unleashed the biggest migratory crisis in recent Latin American history. It has forced countries like Peru —a developing nation of 32 million people— to grapple with an unprecedented surge in immigration.
Some four million people have fled Venezuela since 2015, according to the United Nations. From those migrants, about 1.2 million have gone to neighboring Colombia. Peru is the second largest absorber of Venezuelans, having taken in some 800,000 so far.
The new immigration law being introduced by Peru requires those entering to possess a valid travel document. That may sound simple enough, but in a country that can’t even provide its citizens medicine, getting a passport is nearly impossible.
Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra defended the tougher migration restrictions, stating that his country has “opened its arms to more than 800,000 Venezuelans. I think it’s completely logical and justified to ask them to bring visas to ensure better control of who enters.”
In a desperate attempt to support the record number of Venezuelans arriving in Peru, the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, has sent extra teams to the Peruvian border to assist the authorities.