On the northern border of Peru, an interdisciplinary team of 26 highly motivated professionals join national humanitarian assistance efforts as UN Volunteers.
The Peruvian towns of Tumbes, Piura, and Lambayeque are facing a triple crisis: climate change, a dengue fever outbreak and forced migration. It is estimated that 840,000 people need humanitarian assistance after heavy rains and are at risk of a possible "El Niño" phenomenon.
In addition, 110,000 new cases of dengue fever were registered in the region (UNIC Peru, 2023). Added to this delicate scenario is the migration of Venezuelans, estimated at 1.5 million people (UNHCR, 2023).
On the northern border of Peru, 26 UN Volunteers join humanitarian assistance efforts, bringing diverse professional experience and skills. They serve with four UN entities: the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
These volunteers are experts in health, nutrition, protection and gender-based violence and specialists in humanitarian response and management of water and sanitation. They take action on the ground on behalf of the entities they serve.
I am a lawyer by profession and provide legal support and access to rights to migrant and refugee populations. This covers specifically the prevention of gender-based violence, human trafficking and aspects of migratory regularization here in Peru. --María Victoria Montoya, UN Volunteer Protection and Social Inclusion Assistant with IOM in Piura, Peru
"UN Volunteers are on the frontlines to assist refugee and migrant families in Piura, and they have been deploying the totality of assistance that we, as IOM, have for the region," explains Alejandro Aparicio, Liaison Coordinator of the IOM Office in Piura, Peru.
To advance the mandate of UNFPA, UN Volunteers provide basic sexual and reproductive health information and services to adolescents and women. They are also responsible for communicating about the prevention and attention to gender-based violence.
WFP implements a global strategy of monetary transfers, where families receive an amount of money to strengthen their well-being. The team of UN Volunteers supporting WFP provides advice to migrant families on nutrition to make best use of these transfers.
Efforts are also aimed at leaving no child behind. In coordination with local entities, UN Volunteers with UNICEF perform orientation services on issues of nutrition, protection, access to education, and water and sanitation.
The key to this interdisciplinary and interagency voluntary approach is empathy. "There are always situations where people arrive very exhausted; physically and emotionally. Being able to identify these cases, have them addressed and then receive the grace that comes to you from the heart, are moments that really impact me," shares Ana Lucía Chiroque, UN Volunteer Social Protection Assistant with UNICEF in Tumbes.
I have been working for UNICEF for more than 30 years. I have gone through different programmes, and this is the first time that I have worked with an entire team of UN Volunteers. I am proud to lead a team of committed professionals who represent UNICEF to a great extent. --José Vásquez Heredia, Coordinator of UNICEF in Tumbes
To date in 2023, 200 UN Volunteers are serving in 15 cities and with 13 UN entities in Peru. Mostly nationals, these volunteers know their territories. Therefore, they not only provide their agencies with first-hand local knowledge, but also enable effective humanitarian assistance, centred on people and aligned with community values.