17/07/2020 The New Humanitarian | COVID-19 shifts Peru’s internal migration into reverse Free Newsletter 25 years of journalism from the heart of crises GENEVA A er welcoming nearly 900,000 Venezuelan migrants fleeing political and economic strife in recent years, Peru is now experiencing a migrant crisis of its own. Some 200,000 Peruvians have been trying to return to their original homes from Lima, since strict lockdown measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 cut them o from their jobs.  In late April, after the rst of several lockdown extensions that will now stretch till 7 September, thousands of jobless and newly homeless informal workers and their families lled the main roads out of the city. Most had moved to Lima, the capital, with the hope of bettering their lives. But now they were beginning journeys back to their former communities, sometimes thousands of kilometers away, many traveling by foot.  Some are still in limbo, delayed along the way by muddled quarantine policies and a lack of aid. For those who did make it home, the scrambled response was compounded by some communities that were unwilling to welcome returnees for fear of infection. “All we want is to go back to our homes and our family,” said Susan Chota Cora, speaking with The New Humanitarian via WhatsApp in June. She spoke from the site of the 2019 Pan American Games, in Lima, where she was in quarantine with other workers from Loreto – a region in Peru’s Amazon basin accessible only by plane – who had tested positive for the virus and were not permitted to y.  “We want to be able to work there, and stay in our place of origin,” she added. “Over there we have a home that we do not have to pay for, we can live off of nature. Those are all things we cannot do here.” Her group had been shu ed among various quarantine facilities since late April, she said.  Returnees like Chota Cora received only eeting attention in national media when they began their journeys home. Their situation, however, highlights the extreme vulnerabilities of the country’s army of informal workers, who nd jobs in areas such as construction, domestic work, transportation, and agriculture, and represent 72 percent of the national workforce. A fth of all Peruvians have migrated internally since birth from their place of origin.  “All we want is to go back to our homes and our family.” Subscribe https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/news/2020/07/08/Peru-internal-migration-coronavirus 2/10

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