PERU: Salesian missionaries sign agreement to set up temporary migrant assistance offices in support of Venezuela migrants and refugees
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries in Lima, Peru, are working to accommodate migrants and refugees from Venezuela. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked Salesian missionaries to sign an agreement to set up temporary migrant assistance offices at the Salesian Institute, which is located in the Breña neighborhood of Lima. The Salesian Institute is expected to receive an average of 1,000 people per day.
Salesian Father José Valdivia, provincial economer of Peru, explained that the cooperation agreement was made through UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. UNHCR has noted, “People continue to leave Venezuela to escape violence, insecurity and threats as well as lack of food, medicine and essential services. With over 4 million Venezuelans now living abroad, the vast majority in countries within Latin America and the Caribbean, this is the largest exodus in the region’s recent history.”
According to UNHCR data, there are more than 4.5 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees in other countries. Colombia has hosted close to 1.3 million while Peru currently has more than 768,000. Prior to the launch of the migrant assistance offices, Salesian missionaries in Magdalena del Mar, Lima, opened the Don Bosco House for youth who arrive in Peru. Here they are offered food and accommodation.
In support of the migrant assistance offices, youth from the Don Bosco House joined other young Venezuelan migrants and refugees who live in the Magdalena del Mar neighborhood to help set up the spaces. They worked with representatives from UNHCR.
“Salesian missionaries continue to work in Venezuela and in other countries in support of those who have fled Venezuela in search of opportunity and a better life,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The new Salesian migrant assistance offices enable youth to seek support as they learn to navigate their new country and restart their lives far away from home.”
Peru faces high levels of income inequality and has more than a quarter of its population living in poverty, according to the World Bank. Poverty levels are significantly higher in rural areas but urban areas struggle most with inequality, most notably metropolitan Lima. Poverty in the country is made worse by a shortage of productive farmland and a lack of job skills among women entering the workforce, as well as a lack of adequate housing, nutrition and education.
Peru has also been plagued by hunger and disaster. According to the World Bank, close to 25 percent of children in the country are chronically malnourished. Communities continue to rebuild after an 8.0 earthquake in August 2007 which killed more than 500 people in the central coastal cities of Chincha, Pisco and Ica and injured hundreds more. The quake destroyed close to 60,000 residential and commercial buildings, leveled hundreds of acres of farmland and left countless Peruvians without means of livelihood.
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Salesian Missions – Peru
UNHCR – Venezuela situation
World Bank – Peru