Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2016, 15:45 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2000 - Peru

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2000
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2000 - Peru , 1 June 2000, available at: [accessed 22 October 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


At year's end, Peru hosted approximately 700 refugees, including about 440 Cubans, 123 former Yugoslavs, and 69 Iranians. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recognized or assisted about 140 of the refugees, mostly Cubans (89). UNHCR rejected the claims of ten new asylum seekers, and at year's end was still considering the claims of four others. The U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) estimated that some 70,000 Peruvians remained internally displaced, down from 340,000 in 1998.

Internal Displacement

Hundreds of thousands of Peruvians fled their Andean homes in the 1980s and early 1990s. They fled a violent insurgency and equally violent counterinsurgency, and widespread human rights abuses by both parties to the conflict.

Until mid-1997, Peruvian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the Peruvian government estimated that the conflict had displaced 600,000 people. In July 1997, the Mesa Nacional sobre Desplazamiento (National Roundtable on Displacement), an NGO consortium, reassessed the total number displaced during the conflict at 430,000. The Mesa noted, however, that as many as 1.6 million people had been "affected" by the conflict.

By 1994, the Communist Party of Peru/Shining Path insurgents had lost much of their strength, and many of the displaced returned home. Between 1995 and 1999, Shining Path violence was minimal in most areas, with the exception of Peru's Amazon region, where they continued to harass the civilian population, mostly indigenous people.

There were no concrete figures on the number of Peruvians who remained displaced at the end of 1999. The government and NGOs differed in their estimates of the number who returned home following the easing of hostilities (the government's estimate was much higher than that of the NGOs). However, both sides agreed that no less than 20 percent of the displaced (more than 80,000) returned home. A large number of returnees found conditions at home untenable and subsequently migrated back to the cities.

In 1999, the Mesa said that 80 percent of the 350,000 displaced persons who had not returned home had settled permanently in their current locations. Therefore, USCR no longer considered those persons to be displaced. USCR continued to regard as displaced the 20 percent – some 70,000 people – who had not yet decided whether to return home or integrate permanently where they were living.

The government continued to assist displaced persons who chose to return home. Since 1995, the government's Program of Support to the Return (PAR) has spent approximately $20 million to provide new housing, schools, health-care facilities, sanitation, and other services in communities to which displaced persons have returned. PAR did not assist formerly displaced persons who chose to integrate in the cities.

According to the Mesa, many of the displaced who have opted for permanent integration in towns and cities "no longer want to be called displaced." The Mesa added, "They are in a process of defining new identities, they don't necessarily want to [continue to] identify as victims." Groups that formerly called themselves Displaced Persons' Associations now call themselves "Populations Affected by the Violence," or "Communities in Reconstruction." Their emphasis is not on return, but on finding ways to improve their livelihood.

Although many returnees and people who chose to integrate in the areas of their displacement have continued to live on the margins of Peruvian society, some have emerged from their displacement expressing higher expectations for their future and demands for their rights. Organized groups of formerly displaced persons have demanded better government-support services, particularly for urban populations. They also have advocated for the right to participate more fully in decision-making affecting their future. Women who before their displacement rarely participated in the public life of their communities have begun asserting their right to a place at both the economic and political tables.

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