In 2021, the City of Lima, Peru, was selected as a grantee of the Global Cities Fund for Migrants and Refugees (GCF), the MMC’s instrument to channel international funding directly to cities to implement inclusive projects of their own design.
With support from the GCF, the City of Lima established new Municipal Offices of Service to Migrant Neighbors (OMA) to connect over 4,000 migrants and refugees to the city’s broader suite of social services and facilitate their safety and well-being as active members of their new communities.
Peru is home to over 800,000 Venezuelan migrants and refugees, most of them settling within the capital city of Lima. While Lima offers them relative safety and new opportunities, they face significant challenges finding stable work, medical care, housing, education, and early childhood services. The arrival of Covid-19 has only exacerbated these challenges, making life harder for those already struggling and putting many migrants and refugees out of work.
Lima used the GCF grant to pilot a new model of social service delivery within the Cercado de Lima district, an area of the city that acts as an entryway for migrants and refugees arriving in the city. Through its project, the city established six new Municipal Offices of Service to Migrant Neighbors (OMA), which offered over 4,000 migrants and refugees a holistic suite of services from different city government departments and civil society partners. These services, all aimed at improving migrants’ living conditions and well-being, included employability workshops, access to healthcare, social assistance, and support for victims of violence.
Because migrants and refugees may be reluctant to approach city government offices, the OMA brought services and activities directly to clients. The OMA conducted six community walks to map areas with a high concentration of migrants and refugees, identify their specific needs, and raise awareness about the new office’s services
In addition, the OMA utilized public open spaces for cultural and artistic activities that brought Lima’s long-standing residents and newest neighbors together. So far, migrants and receiving community members have jointly beautified six public spaces through mural paintings.
The OMA organized two large service fair, called migratones, for the city government and its non-governmental partners to present their services migrants and refugees, giving them the choice in what services and service providers best met their needs. The events also featured recreational and sports activities to bring young migrants and their receiving communities together while giving caregivers a chance to explore the city’s services.
Jorge Muñoz Wells, Former Mayor of Lima
Lima welcomes all who choose our city as their home. In doing so, we wish to send a message to other cities of the world regarding the power of inclusion as one of the main values of society.
As a result of Lima’s project, over 4,000 migrants and refugees have increased awareness of and access to the services offered by the city government and its partners.
In addition to connecting migrants to essential services, the project took strides to strengthen ties between Lima’s longest standing residents and their migrant neighbors. By bringing migrants and receiving community members together at the OMA offices and through public cultural events, Lima fostered mutual understanding and reduced instances of discrimination and xenophobia.
Lima’s project also championed the socioeconomic and political inclusion of migrants. The city worked with migrants and migrant-led organizations as equal partners to organize and publicize the OMA’s activities, including hiring Venezuelan community mobilizers. Lima also identified nearly 40 Venezuelan civil society organizations in Lima’s migrant neighborhoods and is supporting their registration process into the city’s official Civil Organizations Registry. Once an organization is formalized, migrants will be able to participate in municipal activities such as the participatory budgeting process.
In the absence of a national policy on migrant and refugee communities, Lima’s pilot project shows how city governments can lead holistic and collaborative approaches to migrant and refugee inclusion in partnership with migrants and refugees themselves, not only meeting their needs but including them in decision-making and service delivery. The Municipality of Lima plans to keep operating the OMA in Cercado de Lima. Based on experience and lessons learned through this project, the municipality will develop institutional and management tools to scale up this initiative at the city level and use it to institutionalize Lima’s emerging policy on including migrants and refugees as equal citizens of the city.