PERU: Salesians offer courtyard of the Provincial House in Breña for migrants during the pandemic
(MissionNewswire) Father José Valdivia, provincial economer, has offered the courtyard of the Salesian Provincial House, which is located in the Breña neighborhood in Lima, Peru, to welcome migrants in need until the COVID-19 pandemic is over. About 90 Haitians were unable to travel to Ecuador because of the emergency medical declaration in Peru. They were left with the only option of sleeping in the streets. Now, they have been settled on the grounds of the Provincial House.
The Peruvian state and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in coordination with the Salesian Congregation, the International Organization for Migration and the nongovernmental organization Illari Amanecer, are coordinating the response during the mandatory asylum. The network is also searching for mattresses, beds and sleeping modules, and food to help the newly arrived migrants. Of the 90 people at the Salesian Provincial House, most are young families, including 25 minors, 32 women and 33 men.
“A few days ago, we communicated with Federico Agusti, UNHCR coordinator general in Peru, who asked, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for the use of the structures of the Breña courtyard to welcome and host a group of Haitians who have nowhere to live. Many of them are children and mothers of families,” explained Fr. Valdivia. “This decision was made in the context of the invitation of the Salesian Rector Major and the Economer General to welcome the most vulnerable people or victims of this pandemic by making our structures available.”
Earlier this year, 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 also located in Breña. The Salesian Institute is expected to receive an average of 1,000 people per day. 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.
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
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