Arica, Chile, April 21, 2023. – Dozens of families are waiting for the intervention of the states in the border section of the point of concord, they’re approximately 150 people who could be seen in that space, but it is known that the flows are variable, reaching up to 250 people in the same day. These people are from different nationalities, such as Venezuelan, Haitian, Colombian, single-parent families, and nuclear families with the presence of children and adolescents.
The majority of the Venezuelan population are families with a longer stay, approximately 3 to 4 days, due to the large amount of luggage they have and the presence of children from 6 months to 8 years old. There are also people of Chilean nationality. People who entered through an unauthorized passage and who did not reach any regularization process have 2, 3, and up to 4 years of irregular residence in Chile, for whom it is impossible to be able to insert themselves into the host community due to the absence of documents to start a visa process. Not being able to leave the country (Chile) regularly, and even less cross Peruvian territory, they have a clear objective of returning to their countries of residence or origin, such as Colombia and Venezuela. They are very tired of their migratory process by not being able to regularize or integrate into the country due to the constant feeling of xenophobia that presumes their presence in the cities where they come from, such as Santiago, Concepción, and Arica; some mention having financial resources to continue their journey to their destination.
In the Haitian population, a very significant number of population with current regular documentation is identified, such as temporary visa and permanent visa. They are nuclear families with the presence of children of Chilean/Haitian nationality and single-person families with the desire to cross through Peru on their way to Central America. This population arrives directly by national flights from Santiago to the Chacalluta airport in Arica, and without having to enter the city, they set out on their way to Peru, entering the border at night or early in the morning through unauthorized crossings, evading the PNP ( Peru) in the shift change they perform.
It is worth mentioning that terrible sanitation conditions were observed, generating an infectious focus for families, due to the lack of water that makes basic hygiene impossible. They do not have access to hygienic services, improvising totally unsanitary spaces. A precarious diet for children is observed, dwindling with crackers, tuna, and water, which then becomes waste, leaving children exposed to severe malnutrition. They are exposed to climatic variations, typical of the season where mainly children who are exposed to relapse into respiratory diseases.
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It was possible to talk with the Peruvian colleagues from HIAS and UNHCR Tacna, who constantly carry water, non-perishable food, and hygiene kits. Red Cross intervenes with medical professionals, unfortunately, with unsuccessful treatments due to the precariousness of where and how the families are.
It should be noted that it is mentioned that the turnover factor of the population is very constant, and mainly of the Haitian population due to the lightness in the luggage, in addition to having greater economic solvency to hire “guides” who would presumably direct their way to the city from Tacna, during the early morning hours.
A timely intervention from the states that is suggested is generating a humanitarian corridor to allow the TRANSIT of the family member, who 100% do not have the desire to settle in the neighboring country of Peru. In addition, as an immediate action, the approach of the PERUVIAN MIGRATION SERVICE would be requested to evaluate the cases that have the documents necessary to be able to transit through Peru, but since they cannot reach the border control of Santa Rosa, the cases cannot be evaluated.
The intervention at the border was thanks to the invitation of IOM, in the delivery of humanitarian aid, in addition to the coordination with the police for the accompaniment and monitoring in the almost 3 hours that we were at the point of concord. Upon our departure from the Chilean side of the border, colleagues from the NGO AMPRO arrived to deliver food and hydration. People mention that they have not received any offense or ill-treatment from the police officers, nor from the PNP, but eventually, altercations could be generated due to the desperation of their situation and the silence in the response of the authorities of the two states (Peru and Chile).
*This narrative report was written by Fundación Scalabrini in Arica, Chile.