Hundreds of migrants stranded at Chile-Peru border; Many say they want to return to Venezuela
Some 700 Peruvian soldiers and police officers will reinforce its southern border with Chile to prevent the entry of undocumented migrants, Peruvian authorities said on Friday, amid diplomatic tensions between the two countries over the issue.
Hundreds of migrants are stranded at the border, including mostly undocumented Venezuelans, according to the Peruvian police. The migrants say they are seeking to enter Peru to continue their journey back home.
While stalled at the border of the two South American countries, the migrants face the inhospitable climate that characterizes the Atacama Desert, one of the driest on the planet, with extremely hot days and intensely cold nights. Some have improvised tents with blankets but they lack water and other basic services.
A group of migrants ran through the desert toward Peru, but they were turned back by Peruvian officers. Some women complained and demanded that the government of President Gabriel Boric provide a bus for them to travel to Venezuela.
Peru’s Interior Minister Vicente Romero told local radio station RPP that some 390 police officers have already arrived at the border and 300 more soldiers will arrive from different parts of the country to join the surveillance mission. “We are not going to allow any illegal entry, or attacks on the police,” he added.
The Peruvian government declared a state of emergency on its borders this week to pave the way for joint operations between the military and the police to stop migrants, in a tightening of its immigration policy.
The government has threatened that foreigners without the proper paperwork could be expelled.
The Peruvian Foreign Ministry summoned the Chilean ambassador in Peru to voice its frustration this week, alleging a lack of Chilean support. The Chilean Foreign Ministry said it had expressed “discomfort” over criticism of Boric by a Peruvian mayor.
Some 1.3 million Venezuelans live in Peru, most of whom have entered since 2017 when the country granted a temporary residence permit. Many have not formalized their status, according to official data. Peru ranks second behind Colombia in Venezuelan migrants, which has an estimated two million. Ecuador, between Peru and Colombia, hosts 450,000 Venezuelans.