Venezuela Refugees and Migrants in Peru

Commission for The Irish Times, 2020

Over 870,00 Venezuelans have travelled to Peru as refugees and migrants since 2017. In February 2020, I went to Peru with Irish Times reporter Sorcha Pollak to meet Venezuelan migrants and hear their stories of reaching, entering, and making a living in Peru. Many had fled desperate conditions in Venezuela, including lack of food, healthcare and electricity, and political repression. 


Sorcha’s story gives a complete overview of the challenges for Venezuelans in Peru. Not all have found a warm welcome as the government promotes a tough “Peru First” migration policy. Amnesty International has accused the Government of Peru of illegally turning away Venezuela refugees. 


Sorcha’s story and my photographs were made possible by the Simon Cumbers Media Fund.

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Adonay (4) and his family are sleeping rough in Zarumilla, Peru, with no mosquito protection. 

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Cristóbal Vegas, a Venezuelan refugee, outside an asylum claims office in Lima, Peru. The office was closed without warning in February 2020.

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Barreto Yasmerys (39) pauses as she describes the difficulties of living as a Venezuelan refugee in Peru.

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People wait to enter Gamarra, a clothing and textile district in Lima where many Venezuelans find formal and informal employment.

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Victor Marcano (27, right), gathers with two friends. All three are  Venezuelan migrants with temporary work permits. They work handing out flyers for menswear stores in the La Gamarra textile district.

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Roger Parra and his daughter Sabrina from Venezuela, wait at the Lima Norte migration office for their appointment to collect their permits to live and work in Peru.

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A Venezuelan street vendor in Lima.

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Xenophobic graffiti, across the street from the Lima Norte migration office, uses a slur to refer to Venezuelans and calls them “thieves.”

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Mother Sophia, a Daughters of Santa Ana nun who provides charity and shelter to Venezuelan migrants and refugees in the district of Corrales in Tumbes, Peru, near the border with Ecuador.

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Milagro (20), who lives in Mother Sophia’s refuge for Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Tumbes, Peru, with her partner Victor (19) and six month old son Victor.

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Mother Sophia arrives at a refuge in the village of Corrales in Tumbes, northern Peru, where she provides shelter to several Venezuelan migrant and refugee families.

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Mother Sophia speaks to reporter Sorcha Pollak outside the refuge that she created for Venezuelan migrants and refugees in the village of Corrales in Tumbes, Peru.

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“Dreams Without Borders”, a mural of hope in Tumbes, Peru, was painted by Venezuelan migrants and refugees in October 2019, under the direction of famous Peruvian artist Elliot Tupac.

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An unaccompanied 18- year-old Venezuelan refugee living alone on the streets of Huaqillas, Ecuador.

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Simón Freitez (18), a Venezuelan refugee in the camp at the official CEBAF border crossing between Ecuador and Peru.

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Jessica, a Venezuelan refugee and mother of three, in Huaqillas, Peru.

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Ros Yelsi Caraballo, a Venezuelan refugee in a camp at the official CEBAF border crossing between Ecuador and Peru.

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Gerwill Jose, a Venezuelan refugee living with his parents Wilmer and Maria in a camp at the official CEBAF border crossing between Ecuador and Peru.

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Raul Valdivieso, who helps to run a refuge for Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Lima, Peru.

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Venezuelan children in a refuge for migrants and refugees in Lima, Peru.