Thousands of Venezuelans on Peru border as deadline nears

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Thousands of Venezuelans fleeing that country’s crisis were stuck on the border between Peru and Ecuador on Tuesday, a day before a deadline set by Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra to grant temporary residence permits.

Vizcarra said Monday that Peru already welcomed in almost a half million Venezuelans and his government needs to evaluate the situation to “look for a balance between solidarity and the real possibility of giving aid to them and to our compatriots.”

He said Peru would grant residence to Venezuelans who entered Peru by Wednesday and requested residence by Dec. 31. He said that is the limit of his country’s ability to host migrants.

“When the first 10,000 and 20,000 arrived, there was no major inconvenience,” Vizcarra said Monday. “After 200,000 there was a noticeable impact on the ability to provide health and education services, and now there are half a million.”

Ecuador lies between Venezuela and Peru, and local media estimated about 7,000 Venezuelans were trying to cross into Peru at the Ecuadorian border city of Tumbes. The number of migrants has overwhelmed local services, and the Red Cross and other humanitarian groups were providing them with food and water.

Meanwhile, Ecuador renewed for a third time an emergency decree in three of its provinces bordering Colombia and Peru to address the flow of Venezuelans. Many of the Venezuelan migrants want to go on to Peru, Chile or Argentina.

According to United Nations’ figures, some 2.3 million Venezuelans have left their country amid severe shortages of food and medicine, hyperinflation and high crime.

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