Unicef: Ewan and Charley Visit a Border Camp in Peru
During Long Way up, Ewan and Charley planned to visit several Unicef sites along the route from Argentina to Los Angeles to see the vital work that they are doing to help children in the region.
Venezuela has been rife with political unrest for a number of years. The worsening situation has led to a mass exodus of its population seeking asylum elsewhere in South America and across the globe. After Colombia, Peru receives the highest number of Venezuelan asylum seekers worldwide, with over 861,000 displaced Venezuelans living in Peru right now.
Ewan and Charley visited a refugee camp at the Peru/Ecuador border so see what Unicef is doing to help. The pair met families who had been driven out of their homes by the crisis to seek safety and security in Peru and beyond. But, unable to continue their journey without permission to enter the country or cross to Chile, many were at the Peru/Ecuador border AKA CEBAF (Binational Border Services - CENTRO BINACIONAL DE ATENCION FRONTERIZA).
In the CEBAF, families and children had fashioned makeshift tents with few amenities, some waiting as long as 50 days whilst their paperwork is processed. UNICEF is helping in the camps, making sure children can use clean water and sanitation services, offering health and nutrition services such as vaccinations and providing a space to play and learn whilst their caregivers organise their immigration paperwork. They also help to identify and aid vulnerable or at-risk children, particularly those separated from family or unaccompanied by an adult.
Ewan and Charley met María and Abraham, aged 16 and 14, who were stuck in the camp on their way to meet their father in Chile. Their mother was severely ill back in Venezuela and had been unable to travel so the pair were making the trip alone. María and Abraham children bear the heavy weight of responsibility for their family. Whilst they hope to make it across the border where they have other family waiting, they desperately miss their mother and brother back home. They have not been able to stay in touch since leaving Venezuela and they have been stuck at the border for many days.
It was an incredibly emotional visit. Talking to these brave young people proved just how vital Unicef’s work is. Under terrible conditions, these children can find some comfort, support and hope.