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26 June 2020 – Peru

IOM Worker Handing Food Parcels to Migrants, (IOM,
IOM Worker Handing Food Parcels to Migrants, (IOM, "Perú y la ONU se Alían Para Ayudar a los Refugiados y Migrantes Venezolanos Afectados por el Coronavirus," UN News, 17 April 2020,

The Covid-19 crisis has had a dramatic impact on Peru’s economic and social situation. As of 25 May 2020, Peru had recorded more than 260,000 cases and 8,586 deaths related to the disease, making it the Latin American country with most cases and deaths from Covid-19 after Brazil.

A report by the World Bank Group reported that Venezuelan migrants residing in Peru (around 830,000) are particularly at risk from Covid-19 due to several factors, including inadequate access to health and social services as well as loss of employment. The report stated that when falling ill, only 33 percent of Venezuelan migrants (compared to 48 percent of Peruvians) sought medical care in a health centre or a doctor’s office, mostly due to a lack of financial resources and insurance coverage. Many Venezuelan migrants in Peru work in the informal sector and due to the Covid-19 crisis have lost their employment and income, leaving many in a situation of extreme poverty.

UN agencies have distributed food parcels and water, provided by the private sector, to some 5,000 families in vulnerable situations. This was intended to cover essential needs during the sanitary emergency to avoid people going out to buy food. According to the IOM director in Peru, “more than 80% of the Venezuelan population in Peru works in the informal sector and that people live off daily income. After 25 days of compulsory social isolation, these persons are in great need of assistance.”

Migrants and refugees are being accommodated in overpopulated shelters. “Accion contra el Hambre” has been distributing food, water, and hygiene kits across the shelters as well as providing support to improve their sanitation infrastructure and hygiene conditions. The organisation has reported that Venezuelan migrants are suffering from increased xenophobia and that this vulnerable population has been left out of subsidy plans during the pandemic.

Certain measures have been taken to reduce the spread of Covid-19 within penal institutions. Peruvian authorities announced the creation of 60 temporary facilities to treat prisoners suffering from Covid-19 on 20 April and thousands of prisoners have been released since April. On 19 May, 933 prisoners were released, most of whom were at least 60 years old and had been sentenced for minor offences. The following day, the Minister of Justice announced that they expect to release approximately 10,000 prisoners on remand and at least 2,500 convicted offenders.

A riot took place on 27 April at the Miguel Castro Castro prison in Lima, which is severely overpopulated. Although it has a capacity of only 1,140 places, there are reportedly 5,500 prisoners. Three prisoners were killed following an operation led by the police and prison guards intended to regain control of the prison. As of 20 May, 2,800 members of staff (out of 11,000) and 3,212 prisoners (out of 96,870) were tested for the disease and 674 employees and 1,223 prisoners tested positive.