A migration crisis at the Chile-Peru border worsened Thursday, as hundreds of migrants remained detained, unable to enter into Peru to return to their home nation of Venezuela.
The majority of the migrants are Venezuelans attempting to cross into Peru to continue on to their home nation, but Peru is refusing to let them in due to a lack of documentation.
While stranded at the border between the two South American countries, the migrants encounter the harsh climate of the Atacama Desert, one of the world’s driest, with brutally scorching days and bitterly cold nights. Some have made makeshift tents out of blankets, but they lack water and other basic necessities.
A group of refugees fled through the desert towards Peru, but were stopped by Peruvian authorities. Some women complained and asked that President Gabriel Boric’s government supply them with a bus to Venezuela.
Images showed migrants pushing Peruvian border guard officers in an attempt to gain entry into the country.
Arica, a northern Chilean city bordering Peru and some 2,000 kilometres (1,245 miles) from Santiago, declared a migration emergency on Thursday.
Amnesty International asked Peru and Chile to cease “the militarization” of their borders. Leaders on both sides are “needlessly aggravating the situation, turning it into a humanitarian crisis that increases the risk to the lives and safety of these people,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas director.
The Chilean government summoned Peruvian Ambassador Jaime Pomareda to express its concern with Tacna Mayor Pascual Guisa’s remarks, in which he termed Chile’s president “irresponsible” for what the ambassador saw as an attempt to shift the country’s migratory difficulties to the border. Pomareda made no public comments on the meeting.