Migrants Stranded on Chile-Peru Border Repatriated to Venezuela

 Undocumented migrants from Venezuela who were in limbo at Chile-Peru border, stand at the airport while they board a special homecoming flight to Venezuela from Arica airport, Chile May 7, 2023. REUTERS/Alexander Infante  
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SANTIAGO, May 7 (Reuters) – Chile’s government said that 115 Venezuelan migrants who had been stranded on the border with Peru were repatriated to Venezuela on a humanitarian flight Sunday.

Hundreds of migrants, mostly Venezuelans seeking to return home, had been stranded in the country’s northern border after being denied entry into Peru. The incident sparked diplomatic tensions as Peru sent police and soldiers to the border to block migrants.

“It was difficult, I don’t wish it on anyone,” Carliana Bravo, 27, said after arriving to Venezuela with a child in her arms.

“It was 12 days of sleeping in the desert, with cold, a lot of sun during the day and the children got burned and ill.”

Yuri Gil, a 38-year-old stylist, said that several people weren’t able to board the flight because they had foreign children.

“Mothers with foreign children didn’t get any help, they got left there,” Gil said. “Just because their kids are Ecuadorian, Peruvian, they didn’t let them through, they didn’t leave on the flight. It was horrible.”

Chilean and Venezuelan authorities were not immediately available for comment about migrants not allowed to board the flight.

In a statement released earlier on Sunday, Chile’s Foreign Ministry said the flight was the result of diplomatic efforts with the Venezuelan government and its “Return to the Homeland” plan.

“Diplomatic efforts will continue with the goal of establishing future flights from different parts of Chile,” the statement said, adding that it would also strengthen regional efforts to deal with the ongoing immigration crisis.

“It’s only through cooperation that we’ll be able to take on the regional migration crisis in the medium and long term,” the statement said.

Reporting by Alexander Villegas, editing by Deepa Babington

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