The displacement of approximately 5 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela peaked in 2019, impacting most countries in the region. As the situation in Venezuela remains volatile, more continue to be displaced.
Peru has shown great solidarity and currently hosts over 830,000 Venezuelans; however, the scale and suddenness of refugee and migrant flows put a strain on State institutions and host communities. The country’s structural problems have been highlighted, and discontent has risen as Venezuelans are perceived as competitors for resources and jobs. Furthermore, the fact that Venezuelans are associated with higher crime rates has significantly increased xenophobia and discrimination. Approximately 100,000 Venezuelan children do not have access to education and 88.5 percent of economically active refugees and migrants work without a formal contract. Reported increases in irregular refugee and migrant flows further exacerbate the situation.
A coordinated and comprehensive response from authorities, the international community and local actors is the only way to provide continued and effective support to the Government and host communities.
Towards a Solution
The national coordination platform for Peru, the Refugee and Migrant Working Group [Grupo de Trabajo sobre Personas Refugiadas y Migrantes] (GTRM), works alongside its regional counterparts to coordinate the humanitarian and development response to the vast flows of refugees and migrants from Venezuela in Peru. It works to address needs and reduce risks and vulnerabilities through the humanitarian development nexus. GTRM is a pilot model for national and regional inter-agency coordination that incorporates greater collaboration and coherence among members to enhance their comparative advantages. By reducing risks and vulnerabilities for those in need of international protection and their host communities, GTRM partners ensure that development is accessible to all, especially those most affected by the Venezuelan situation.
This is key in a region comprised of developing countries that are working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). GTRM supports the Government of Peru in addressing the needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, which complement the country’s own development challenges, particularly in poverty, public education, health and the informal economy. GTRM works to ensure an inclusive and equitable quality education for Venezuelans and host communities; promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth; encourage full and productive employment and decent work; promote an integrated, peaceful and inclusive society for sustainable development; and strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize global partnerships for sustainable development. Endorsed by 11 countries within the Quito Process, GTRM is instrumental in supporting government efforts across the region to receive and integrate refugees and migrants from Venezuela. GTRM partners contribute to developing and harmonizing national and regional strategic initiatives on documentation, protection, education, health and integration, among other areas. Through South-South cooperation, best practices have been shared with other coordination platforms in the region to disseminate and develop skills, knowledge and successful initiatives in areas including decent job creation and entrepreneurship; the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex persons, children and other vulnerable groups; and strengthening national systems for refugee status determination.
In 2019, milestones were attained using a participatory and consultative approach in which United Nations agencies, international and national non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations and faith-based organizations aligned their efforts under a common response plan. The Refugee and Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) is therefore both a product of and a means for resourceful South-South cooperation among Governments and humanitarian and development actors across the region. By coordinating and channelling their efforts through thematic working groups, partners shared information, standardized procedures, reduced duplications and improved the effectiveness and efficiency of their response. As a result, over 340,000 persons from Venezuela and host communities in Peru received direct emergency assistance, socio-economic and cultural integration support and protection services. These efforts also improved the capacities of government institutions.
In 2020, thanks to the coordination and information-sharing mechanisms, both the national and regional platforms moved to a new sectoral approach. The new sectors, reproduced across the region, consist of education, food security, health, humanitarian transport, integration, multipurpose cash-based interventions, non-food items, nutrition, protection, shelter and support services, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene for all. This sectoral approach allows GTRM partners to better address humanitarian and development challenges facing refugees, migrants and host communities.
To ensure an evidence-based response, the response plan for Peru is based on a joint needs analysis (JNA) involving all GTRM partners who contributed to identifying and discussing needs, gaps, risks and vulnerabilities. The JNA incorporates the views, capacities and needs of all partners. Moreover, regional projects include establishing a regional network of support spaces where communities of refugees, migrants and nationals and their organizations collaborate on efforts to support those in need. Other projects focus on sharing data and information on population trends and needs, which is essential to harmonizing strategies within the region.
To ensure sustainability, coordination mechanisms have been established to allow GTRM to work with the government at the local and national levels, which is a major achievement in Peru. At the national level, GTRM aligns its work with the Government’s ‘Mesa de Trabajo Intersectorial para la Gestión Migratoria’ [Intersectoral Working Group for Managing Migration]. In Arequipa, Cusco, Tacna and Tumbes, coordination mechanisms are led by regional government institutions, with platform members providing direct technical support.
GTRM has developed a monitoring framework tailored to the 2020 RMRP. It contains a comprehensive list of activities in several sectors, each having strategic objectives and indicators at the national and regional levels. Regular monitoring exercises are being carried out, which include the systematic collection of quantitative and qualitative data. The monitoring framework will assist in measuring outputs against strategic objectives and indicators. It will also serve to further analyse the effectiveness of the response, identifying gaps and informing the programming changes needed to address SDG targets. Efficient coordination structures and platforms, such as GTRM, should be replicated. These forums allow key humanitarian and development actors and donors to collaborate on innovative and complementary issues and share knowledge and best practices. This is essential to developing successful initiatives that respond to specific humanitarian challenges. For developing countries in regions impacted by humanitarian crises and the resulting displacement of communities, technical cooperation and the exchange of successful experiences in emergency response could strengthen the resilience of host communities.