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Peru declares emergency on the border as Venezuelans flee the crisis at home



LIMA (Reuters) – Peru proclaimed a health emergency on its northern border on Tuesday, as thousands of Venezuelans fleeing the economic crisis and hunger at home poured into the country despite worsening access conditions.

FILE PHOTO: Peru's President Martin Vizcarra speaks during an interview with Reuters in Pucallpa, Peru on August 9, 201

8. REUTERS / Guadalupe Pardo

In a decree published in the official gazette of the government, the Peruvian president said Martin Vizcarra a 60-day accident in two provinces on the northern border of Peru, citing "imminent danger" for health and hygiene due to immigration. There were no details about the risks.

The exodus of Venezuelans to other South American countries is building into a "crisis moment" comparable to events involving refugees in the Mediterranean, the UN said this week.

Peru's health authorities have previously expressed their concern about the spread of diseases such as measles and malaria among migrants, many of whom have had no access to primary health care and healthcare in their home countries.

Brazil said earlier this month that the wave of migration in neighboring countries, including Brazil, where the disease was considered eradicated, led to measles outbreaks.

Top immigration officials from Peru, Colombia and Brazil met in the Colombian capital Bogota for a two-day summit to discuss how to manage the influx of migrants.

There are nearly a million Venezuelans now living in Colombia and more than 400,000 in Peru, the countries said in a joint statement on Tuesday after the meeting. Only 178,000 of those in Peru have a legal permit to stay or be processed.

Colombia and Peru will exchange information about migrants in a database to track arrivals and distribute relief supplies equitably, the two countries said. The countries invited others affected by the Venezuelan migration to join the initiative.

This month, Peru and Ecuador began calling for passports instead of national IDs of Venezuelan migrants. Peru has also tightened the deadlines for Venezuelans to apply for a temporary residence card that allows them to legally work in the country.

On Saturday, the first day that Peru passed its passport rule, the number of Venezuelan migrants entering the country dropped by more than half to 1,630, according to the Peruvian Immigration Department. But hundreds more without passports have come to the country to seek asylum.

Foreign Ministers from Ecuador and Colombia, and possibly Peru and Brazil, will meet next week to discuss Venezuelan migration in Ecuador, said Colombia's Migration Agency Director Christian Kruger.

Peru also called for a meeting with the Organization for the United States and the United Nations to discuss the issue, Peru's Foreign Minister said.

Mitra Taj reporting, additional coverage by Luis Jaime Acosta of Bogota, editors of Rosalba O & Brien

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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