COLCHANE – A humanitarian camp has been set up in the town of Colchane where the migratory crisis along the Chile-Bolivia border continues to escalate. The camp will host children and teenagers crossing the border at Colchane. Police will also be patrolling the camp to take down reports of human rights violations against the minors.
Chile’s Ministry of the Interior has opened a humanitarian camp near the Chilean-Bolivian border as part of the government’s response to the increase in migrants crossing the border into Chile. The camp has been set up in coordination with several non-governmental organizations which will provide care and other services to migratory minors in the Tarapacá region. Chile’s national police force (the Carabineros) will be present in the camp to collect statements and reports of human right violations against the children and adolescents.
The camp will be working closely with the authorities in Colchane to try to safeguard those entering Chile without an accompanying adult. The measures include United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) welcome centers and added security.
From Chile through the Darien Gap
Some of the young migrants arriving at the camp will be looking to make their next move to the United States. The path north to the U.S. will take them through the dangerous Darien Gap at the border of Colombia and Panama. UNICEF estimates that some 19,000 children have already journeyed across the region this year alone.
UNICEF reports that almost half of the migrants who have crossed the gap this year are from Haiti and many of their children were born in Chile.
UNICEF has also raised concerns that women and children passing through the gap are vulnerable to abuse, violence, and extortion by criminal gangs. The UN agency states that this matter should be treated as a “serious humanitarian crisis” and calls on states within the Americas to “guarantee the protection” of all those crossing the Darien Gap, especially children.
Concerns from the United Nations
Various agencies of the UN have also come together to express their concerns surrounding the extradition of migrants from Chile to their home countries. The concerns follow the return of some Venezuelan migrants while their cases were still pending in court. Apparently, in some instances, humanitarian and familial situations were not taken into account.
The agencies also described the profound effects deportations have on children who are separated from their parents and guardians due to extraditions. They have called for courts to keep families together, advocating for the preservation of the family unit as a “standard” when reviewing the case of parents and caregivers.
While the UN also “recognizes and respects” the Chilean government’s interest in protecting its borders, it called on Chile to acknowledge international laws and highlighted the “importance” of Chile implementing repatriation measures in accordance with international human right laws and international refugee laws.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the UN Committee on Migrant Workers have also reminded many nations of the risk posed to all in the repatriation of migrants. They have recommended a provisional postponement of extraditions: “A call for states to consider the temporary suspension of deportations or forced removal of migrants.”
Emmanuela is an International Relations and Modern Languages student from the Univeristy of East Anglia. Human Rights is of key interest to her as are culture, politics and sports.