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Peruvians fear Venezuelan immigration wave despite curbs



Residents of a Peruvian border town, where a street strewn with street vendors marks the border with Ecuador, believe that new immigration restrictions will do little to stem a wave of Venezuelan migrants.

More than 2,500 migrants flooded the small intersection on Friday – 10 times the usual daily traffic – desperate to travel to Peru hours before new restrictions come into force.

Thousands also besieged the main Ecuador-Peru intersection in Tumbes, several kilometers away.

Local shopkeepers and residents have supported the Venezuelan government's new entry restrictions, which come into effect on Friday at midnight, but fear that this will only encourage traffickers to get involved.

Many Venezuelans flee from the economic chaos in their country for 20 days hiking, hitchhiking or being packed with their belongings in crowded rural buses

"The kids are tired and dizzy because the journey is so good. This is quite complicated "Carolina Velandia told AFP when she arrived at the intersection on Friday.

The 36-year-old supermarket director fled with her children from Venezuela to her husband, who reached Lima five months ago.

Peruvian officers distributed balloons to the children at the border crossing, but many feared there would be a different story on Saturday when people without passports were turned away to Peru's new entry requirements.

Humanitarian aid workers believe only half of Venezuelans have relocations Passports

"We've been traveling for five days We drove by bus and saw people, Venezuelans, walking down the street," said Jonathan Zambrano, 18 towards AFP.

Zambrano traveled with 21-year-old Roxdaly Del Valle, who said that he had dropped his civil engineering studies Venezuela to seize his opportunities in Peru.

– Human Trafficking –

Shops and stands messed up on both sides of the border, selling clothing, electrical appliances and food.

"It's easy in these parts to enter the country, it's not like other borders, you can go to the countryside, go to the farms and enter illegally," Luis Alberto Gutierrez said as he put the money at a table changed less than 100 meters from the intersection.

Some believe that the Venezuelan exodus will encourage Mexican-style human trafficking in the area.

"We will soon have the so-called" coyotes "who will instruct the Venezuelans to bring them to Lima and outwit them," said Giannella Jaramillo on her coat rack.

Jaramillo said that although many people wanted to help the migrants, there was still the fear that they would cost the Peruvians their jobs.

"On the one hand, we are sorry for the Venezuelan people, but they are taking a job away from a Peruvian," he said.

"It's hard to help more people."

Ecuador and Peru have experienced an increase in Venezuelan migrants in recent days.

"Go two blocks and you'll see 10 Venezuelans running two more and you'll see 10 Venezuelans," said Ecuadorian Gerardo Gutierrez, who crosses the border selling m

"In economically poor countries, it's hard to get more people to help with the little, "he added.

The Red Cross and the UN refugee agency UNHCR have had a team here since April to seek help for Venezuelan migrants

"People arrive with very few resources and after five or six days they are the shortest. There are people who have been traveling for months, "said Regine de la Portilla of UNHCR to AFP.


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