Lima, Peru, March 9, 2022 — As Peru has become one of the main host countries for displaced Venezuelans, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has announced the launch of operations in the country.
More than one million Venezuelans have tried to settle in Peru since 2016. Having become the host country with the second largest population of displaced Venezuelans in South America, living conditions have become more difficult in recent years in due to pandemic-related factors. . The closure of Peru’s borders as a containment measure for COVID-19 (which has limited human mobility) and the economic downturn – which has limited opportunities for formal and informal work – have Venezuelans struggling to support themselves basics like food and housing. Staying healthy is another challenge, as many live in overcrowded and often substandard housing – and many more have no choice but to live on the streets.
Marianne Menjivar, Director of Venezuela Crisis Response at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), said:
*“Life continues to be extremely difficult for Venezuelans, even after their arrival in neighboring countries. While Latin American countries like Peru have taken in large numbers, despite insufficient international funding and support, national systems are overstretched and, in the case of Peru, Venezuelans face great hurdles to cover their most urgent needs. *
“We call on the international community to allocate sufficient funds to enable the development of a comprehensive response to the needs of Venezuelans where they are. Without the support of the international community, including donor countries and development banks, this crisis risks becoming a forgotten crisis.
Main needs of Venezuelans in Peru
The IRC conducted an assessment in Peru in late 2021 to identify the most critical needs of Venezuelans and inform the expansion of its response. The assessment was based on interviews with 900 Venezuelan families across the country, asking them to list their main needs. After these interviews, the IRC identified five main needs which, although similar to those previously diagnosed in Ecuadorvaried in priority:
Money. Of the families surveyed, 71% mention financial support in their lists of needs. Although more than half of all family members reported contributing in some way to income, most often through informal (45%) and formal (35%) jobs, less than 1 in 5 families said they needed to use their savings for living expenses. The use of savings was mostly tied to COVID-19 assignments, as most of the money had been saved before the pandemic, either to send to loved ones or to return to Venezuela. The average household income in the week preceding the interview was extremely low, at US$79, while the poverty line in Peru is US$88 – 46% of Venezuelans surveyed lived below this line.
Food. This need was among the priorities of 58% of families. Although 8 in 10 people reported buying their food with cash, 1 in 4 reported resorting to coping strategies such as begging; receive humanitarian aid; ask neighbours, friends or family; or go to a soup kitchen. The Reduced Coping Strategies Index (RCSI) is a standard global measure to help understand levels of food insecurity, based on families noting how often they engage in coping mechanisms, including limiting the size or frequency of meals. A score of 10 or more is considered “severe adaptation”, and for families surveyed by the IRC, the score was 14.
Medications. Although general health care is the fifth most cited need, 38% of respondents mentioned medicines among the priority needs, ranking it as the third most relevant need.
Safe working conditions. Listed by 34% of Venezuelans. According to the focus groups, participants frequently mentioned issues related to labor extortion, including lack of guarantees to receive payment, wages not commensurate with hours worked, or high-risk jobs. accidents, while not being able to access any type of insurance.
Health care. Included in the lists of 33% of people because access to health services for Venezuelans in Peru is complex. While emergency services, attention to children under five, and pregnant women and mothers up to 42 days postpartum are provided to those who can provide some form of identification in As part of the integrated health system, only those who have a type of residence card can access the system for other needs. It is estimated that only 10% of Venezuelans in Peru meet this criterion.
In addition to the top 5 needs, Venezuelan families highlighted particular protection concerns, especially for children. The main risk was child labor (60%), followed by physical violence (39%) and sexual abuse (28%). Protection issues were also identified for women, primarily listing risks related to gender-based violence manifesting in violent acts in public spaces, including street harassment, fondling and strangers offering money to women. women who were engaged in an economic activity not associated with sex work.
A population-based response
Following a expansion in Ecuador, and once the main needs were identified, the IRC designed a strategy to deliver its response to support Venezuelans in a holistic and timely manner in the places where they need it most, now in Peru. After launching operations in early 2022 and continuing to roll out throughout the year, IRC’s response in Peru focuses on groups of people most at risk of morbidity and mortality, including pregnant women and nursing mothers, girls, adolescents and boys. , unaccompanied and separated children, older people, people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. The response will be implemented in Tumbes, Piura and Lima, with three main axes:
Protection. The IRC will implement activities to ensure girls, boys, women and other at-risk family members are safe and receive support when they experience harm. Protection activities will focus on two main complementary pathways to enable people’s safety and well-being: preventing and responding to violence and addressing its root causes.
Health. The activities that the IRC will implement will focus on facilitating and complementing comprehensive, timely and quality access to primary health care and sexual and reproductive health services. Strategies will be deployed in partnership and strategic coordination with regional government health authorities and other stakeholders operating in targeted areas, including at the community level through strong coordination with social forces such as religious leaders, organizations grassroots, women’s associations groups, civil society organizations, foundations and associations of Venezuelans.
Access to basic needs. The IRC will meet the basic needs of Venezuelans through cash and voucher assistance (CVA), allowing people to choose how to meet their priority needs, while increasing efficiency, supporting local actors and boosting local economies.
Learn more about the IRC’s response to the Venezuelan crisis
The IRC is on the ground to provide a collective response to holistically – and timely – support Venezuelans where they need it most: implementing programming with a blended model of partnerships with local organizations and a directly implemented in Colombia, Ecuador and now Peru, and providing support to vulnerable people. populations through local organizations in Venezuela. In 2020, the IRC provided assistance to over 87,000 Venezuelans.