UN condemns xenophobic attacks against Venezuelan migrants in Chile
The United Nations has condemned the violent and xenophobic attacks against Venezuelan migrants in Chile over the weekend as public anger mounts over their presence in the country.
According to reports, the UN mission in Chile, in a tweet on Monday, called on “authorities and the population to act within the framework of respect for human rights and international humanitarian rights.”
Thousands of Chileans participated in an anti-immigration demonstration in the northern port city of Iquique on Saturday, chanting slogans against the Venezuelan migrants while setting fire to their belongings. The protesters demanded the Chilean authorities stop the entry of migrants into the South American country.
“They yell at us, ‘Go back to your country. What are you doing here?’ They yell at us a lot of ugly things,” said Jaqueline Rojas, a Venezuelan in the city.
The day before, the militarized Chilean police evacuated a migrant camp to evict 150 Venezuelan families that had camped for a year in the town square.
Eduardo Stein, the UN Refugee Agency and UN Migration Agency's representative for Venezuelan migrants, expressed his “sadness and dismay” at what he described as acts of hate and intolerance.
“Discrimination and xenophobia have no place in our countries and must be firmly condemned,” he said.
Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera condemned the violence in a statement.
The Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in a televised address vowed to respond to the “xenophobic and discriminatory” violence against “the compatriots who are in Iquique.”
Maduro ordered the resumption of the “Return to the Homeland” program to support and facilitate the voluntary return of Venezuelans wanting to return home.
Vice President Delcy Rodriguez also said "Venezuela repudiates xenophobia and aggression against its migrants and demands that the Chilean national and subnational authorities respect the physical and psychological integrity of our fellow nationals."
Migrants face increasing discrimination and are often abused by police and alarmed locals assaulting them physically and making racist statements.
The United States' sanctions against Venezuela, aimed at ousting President Maduro, and ensuing economic crisis have prompted mass migration from the oil-rich country.