Santiago, May 4 (EFE).- The Chilean foreign minister said Thursday that Venezuela’s government is chartering a flight to repatriate Venezuelan migrants who have found themselves stranded on Chile’s northern border with Peru.
“It is an important advance and allows us to deal appropriately with this humanitarian problem,” Alberto van Klaveren said. “We have always said that this issue requires a regional focus and approach, because it’s a problem that affects no less than five countries and the response needs to be collective.
The plane is due to arrive early Sunday in the northern Chilean city of Arica, where Venezuelans seeking to exit the county have congregated since Peru declared a state of emergency on its borders.
Besides the contingent in Arica, the flight will carry a smaller group of Venezuelans who managed to enter Peru, the foreign minister said, praising the government in Caracas for being “well disposed” toward finding solutions to the migrant crisis.
The costs of the operation will be borne by the government of President Nicolas Maduro as part of its Return to the Homeland program for Venezuelan expats, Van Klaveren said.
Peruvian Defense Minister Jorge Chavez confirmed Thursday that Lima is working with Chile and Venezuela to coordinate the repatriation of the migrants,
The migrants should be repatriated “as soon as possible to provide a solution to this migratory crisis,” he said, adding that Caracas will accept the return of Venezuelans who have criminal records in Peru.
“It is estimated that at least 300 people, including families with children and teenagers, pregnant women and the chronically sick, are stranded on the border between Peru and Chile in a critical humanitarian situation without food, water, shelter or health care in a desert known for its extreme conditions,” Amnesty International said last week.
“Most of these people are from Venezuela, but the presence of Haitians and other nationalities has also been reported,” AI said, attributing the crisis to the militarization of the border by Chile and Peru amid rising anti-immigrant sentiment in both countries.