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Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela - Regional Response: Situational update No.2 (October 2018)

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In Peru, a surge of an average of 4,000 daily arrivals, before the deadline of 31st of October for the Temporary Stay Permit, has led Peruvian authorities and partners to scale up the response.

Intergovernmental discussions continue to take place in order to strengthen regional coordination, in advance of the Quito II meeting on November 22 and 23.

In 16 countries, 75 partners participating to the Regional and National Platforms progress with the articulation of a Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for 2019.

Situation Overview

During the last week of October, the number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela transiting through Ecuador and Colombia – with the intention of travelling to Peru, has substantially increased. In the Tumbes northern border of Peru, the average number of arrivals rose from 1,800 to over 4,000 per day, with a peak of 6,700 entries on the last day of the month. The surge is related to the 31 October entry deadline as a condition for application for the Temporary Stay Permit (PTP) in Peru. Thousands of refugees and migrants from Venezuela waited for two to three days in order to proceed with mandatory entry requirements, sleeping out in the open, with concerning sanitary conditions and many persons requiring urgent medical assistance and food. Emergency measures were implemented by the national authorities, with support of Platform partners to speed up processing, provide immediate assistance and mitigate protection risks.

Also in Peru, a court decision was issued to reinstate the presentation of a valid passport as an entry requirement for Venezuelans, whilst entry with the national identification document is granted to persons with disabilities, children and other individuals in vulnerable situations. During the last week of October, the Special Commission for Refugees (CEPR) processed up to 1,000 asylum requests per day, compared to an earlier average of 400.

The risks associated with irregular border crossings was exemplified by reported deaths in October, including two Venezuelans travelling by boat to Aruba. During transit and upon arrival, refugees and migrants continue to be exposed to various other protection risks, including exploitation, violence, trafficking and recruitment by non-state armed groups. In October, Colombian authorities arrested members of a large human trafficking network targeting Venezuelans operating around the border of Cúcuta and in Quindío department.

In this context, governments of the impacted countries continue to be actively engaged at the international, regional and national level. Further discussions on the implementation of a regional temporary protection status for refugees from migrants from Venezuela in the region as well as elaborations on a regional action plan, are expected to take place in a Regional Technical Meeting on Human Mobility of Venezuelan Citizens in the Americas (Quito II) on 22 and 23 November.

In addition, the Governments of Colombia and Peru signed an agreement to exchange information of Venezuelans present in their country. Similarly, the Governments of Aruba and Curaçao signed a letter of intent to exchange migratory information. Member countries of the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) committed through its new annual work plan on joint actions on migration management.

Institutional and policy arrangements at national level continue to rapidly evolve. In October, some key developments included: the launch of an Assistance and Protection Plan for Venezuelans, the extension of the state of emergency in the provinces of Carchi, El Oro, and Pichincha, and the implementation of a Electronic Visa Application system in Ecuador; the implementation of Departmental Coordination Committees and the promotion of the Humanitarian Fund initiative in Colombia; and the creation of a Humanitarian Affairs Office for Venezuelan residents in Panama, combined with further measures to simplify visa requirements and enhance access to basic services for Venezuelans in the country.