SANTIAGO: Chile on Thursday (May 4) confirmed it will send home a planeload of hundreds of Venezuelan migrants that have spent weeks stranded at the northern border with Peru.
Groups of Venezuelans, Haitians and Colombians have spent more than two weeks stuck in the border area after leaving Arica in northern Chile because Peru refused to let them continue into the town of Tacna, alleging they lacked the necessary documentation.
Last week, authorities in Lima declared a state of emergency at the country’s borders, deploying troops to reinforce checkpoints and block undocumented workers from crossing over from Chile.
Many of the migrants say they are trying to go home, or seeking to continue northwards in a bid to reach the United States.
“I would like to confirm the arrival of a Venezuelan airplane at the Arica airport to collect a pretty large group of migrants who are currently stranded at the border,” said Chile’s foreign minister Alberto van Klaveren.
Chile has also sent soldiers to its borders to help control the entry of undocumented migrants and Congress has approved a law ordering the detention of migrants not carrying documentation.
According to the UN refugee agency, there are on average 150 to 200 migrants a day left stranded between the South American neighbours.
The repatriation flight is part of a program launched by the Venezuelan government, said Van Klaveren.
The flight will take stranded migrants from both sides of the border.