For information on UNHCR's operation in Peru prior to 2019, please see the Regional Office Argentina page. 

Operation: Opération: Peru



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Key Figures

2020 year-end figures
300,000  refugees and migrants received life-saving support such as shelter, health assistance, hygiene kits, food, and water
70,000 calls and messages by population of concern addressed through UNHCR’s toll free helpline
52,9960  people received emergency cash assistance to cover basic needs
50,000 asylum claims filed remotely through the government online system supported by UNHCR
9,400 specialized mental health consultations provided to refugees and migrants
1,200 Venezuelan health professionals among the refugee and migrant population identified and referred to the Ministry of Health to support the response to the pandemic
125 refugee housing units delivered to enhance the capacity of 67 hospitals or health centers in the country
2021 planning figures
200,000  eligible individuals will be registered
40,000  applicants will be provided with information on government refugee status determination procedures
7,678  households of Venezuelan refugees and migrants will receive cash assistance 
600 people at heightened risk will be provided with cash grants for livelihood purposes
25 peaceful coexistence projects will be implemented 
15 reception centres/ facilities improved or maintained

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 1,557,276
2019 867,821


[["Refugees",4332],["Asylum-seekers",537552],["Others of concern",500353],["Venezuelans displaced abroad",515039]]
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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[null,null,null,20.49633232,48.62553417,60.91328008],"expenditure":[null,null,null,14.17369775,20.15448357,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[null,null,null,20.49633232,48.62553417,60.91328008],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[null,null,null,14.17369775,20.15448357,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

With over one million refugees and migrants from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Peru faced significant challenges to respond to the needs of the second-largest refugee and migrant population in the region. With the pandemic and lockdown measures refugees and migrants experienced abrupt and dramatic deterioration of their livelihood situation as 90% depend on some form of daily labour for their income. According to the World Bank, 92% of Venezuelans in Peru live in poverty or extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic.
The closure of borders left people in need of international protection with no option but to enter the country irregularly. Monitoring of borders was key to ensure protection and provide life-saving assistance. As mobility restrictions were lifted, arrivals increased through irregular crossings. With strained health systems, access to care was possible only for those ill with COVID-19.

UNHCR advocacy and support led to the launch of a remote asylum system by the Government that also suspended migratory sanctions and extended the validity of documents. A new Temporary Stay Permit for Venezuelans was launched.

Population trends

By the end of 2020, Peru was hosting one million Venezuelan refugees and migrants, half of them asylum seekers. Although mobility restrictions brought official population flows to a standstill, some 300 to 900 irregular entries were reported daily by the end of the year.

The official number of asylum-seekers reported until 31 December 2020 was 537,590, of which over 532,000 were Venezuelans. An additional 50,000 new asylum claims were lodged after a remote registration system was launched in June. Also, the country host 4,302 recognized as refugees The country host refugees and asylum seekers from Colombia, Cuba, Haiti and Yemen, among others.

Key achievements

  • A remote toll-free helpline allowed UNHCR to communicate with and assist 70,000 people. Also, 9,000 people at heightened need were referred to specialized services.
  • Cash assistance was rapidly scaled up to reach 52,000 Venezuelan refugees and migrants, mainly through mobile money.
  • Following strong advocacy efforts, 50,000 people were able to file their asylum claims through a UNHCR-supported national asylum system.  
  • To help destitute refugees and migrants, 220,000 food rations were provided in 23 shelters and temporary centres in Arequipa, Lima, Tacna, and Tumbes.
  • Solidarity campaigns such as #TuCausaEsMiCausa reached over three million people and fostered peaceful coexistence. Also, in response to xenophobia, an agreement with Peru’s most famous football club was signed.  

Unmet needs

UNHCR’s Operations in Peru were 55% funded in 2020. Considering over half a million asylum claims were pending in Peru, the national Refugee Commission required additional support to process cases. With more funds, UNHCR could have contributed to the expansion of the asylum system to main receiving areas and with capacity to process cases.

While UNHCR expanded cash assistance programmes thanks to mobile money, funds were insufficient to support a vast majority of the population in poverty. The scale-up of livelihoods programmes was also constrained, and trainings to help refugees and migrants had more opportunities to find a job were limited.

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

Thanks to flexible funds, UNHCR rapidly scaled up life-saving activities when the health emergency was declared. Food rations and shelter were provided to people evicted from their homes; and antiseptic alcohol, masks and hygiene items such as soap were distributed to help refugees and migrants meeting basic needs and complying with health recommendations.

Unrestricted funds allowed for an expansion of the response to gender-based violence, which spiked during the confinements. Over 300 survivors were supported with medical, psychosocial, legal and cash assistance. Fifty of them received training and seed capital to launch a business.

Working environment

Peru is the main host country for Venezuelans seeking refugee status. Of the 860,000 Venezuelans residing in Peru, all of whom are considered people of concern to UNHCR, 377,000 have sought asylum.
Despite the large influx, Peru has maintained a generous policy vis-à-vis Venezuelan nationals. However, social services are overstretched and cannot address adequately the increasing needs of Peruvian nationals, Venezuelans and others residing in the country. Therefore, asylum-seekers and people holding temporary stay permits rarely have access to social security programmes or to free health services, which are meant only for those in extreme poverty. This is of concern to Venezuelans with serious or chronic medical conditions who cannot access affordable treatment.

Several protection concerns were identified during protection monitoring exercises, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), human trafficking, limited access to dignified housing, exploitative labour conditions, and lack of standard procedures for the protection of unaccompanied and separated children. 

To support the Government’s operational response, UNHCR and IOM set up an inter-agency Working Group on Refugees and Migrants (GTRM) with 60 partners, including UN agencies, non-government, civil society organisations and donors. UNHCR works with more than ten national and international NGO partners supporting the implementation of the protection and solution strategy. 

Key priorities

The three strategic pillars guiding UNHCR’s operation in Peru in 2020 are: promotion of access to the territory and legal stay; provision of humanitarian assistance, targeting people with specific needs, including in temporary shelters to prevent and mitigate protection risks and the promotion of community and area-based interventions; and supporting access to quality services for people of concern through public systems, national and local institutions, fostering local integration and enhancing livelihoods opportunities. Social cohesion is a cross-sectoral outcome and a core strategic direction. Therefore, strengthening links with host communities and enhancing social cohesion through peaceful coexistence activities will underpin all interventions. 
In 2020, UNHCR will:
  • Improve access to territory and reduce the risk of refoulement through the provision of information to some 30,000 people of concern;
  • Improve reception conditions through establishing and maintaining more than 15 receptions centres and through monitoring of the situation of 2,000 people of concern;
  • Support more than 8,370 vulnerable households with multipurpose cash grants;
  • Provide at least 250 SGBV survivors with psychosocial counselling;
  • Implement more than 10 peaceful coexistence projects to strengthen peaceful co-existence with local communities;
  • Improve the self-reliance and livelihoods of people of concern through the provision of more than 400 sectoral cash grants for livelihoods.
Latest contributions
  • 25-NOV-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 24-NOV-2021
  • Germany
  • 23-NOV-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 22-NOV-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • Japan

    private donors

  • 18-NOV-2021

    private donors

  • Argentina
  • Romania
  • Qatar
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • 17-NOV-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 15-NOV-2021
    United Arab Emirates

    private donors

  • 12-NOV-2021
  • 11-NOV-2021
  • Angola
  • 09-NOV-2021
  • 08-NOV-2021
  • Hungary