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R4V Regional Situation Report: July - September 2021



During the reporting period, increases in irregular entries and onward movements of refugees and migrants between host countries were reported from across the region, including through the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama, at the northern border of Mexico with the United States, and along the border between Chile and Peru. As a result of ongoing COVID-19-related border closures and movement restrictions, refugees and migrants from Venezuela were compelled to use irregular channels and informal border crossings, resulting in dangerous journeys through harsh weather conditions and exposed to grave protection risks, including of human trafficking and smuggling, exploitation and abuse.

The Southern Hemisphere winter season, between June and September, implied increased hardship for refugees and migrants, particularly those in transit. The cold weather conditions and difficult terrain at the border between Bolivia and Chile led to the tragic deaths of 6 refugees and migrants between July and September, bringing the total number of fatalities there to 14 since the beginning of 2021. A majority of the deceased were identified as Venezuelans.

Incidents of xenophobia and discrimination were of growing concern. On 25 September, violent protests against Venezuelans took place in Iquique, Chile. Protesters gathered a day after local police had evicted refugees and migrants from a temporary camp on a town square and set fire to belongings of Venezuelans. A statement was issued by the Joint Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants condemning the xenophobic violence in Iquique and calling on political, social and community leaders, as well as the media, to work to prevent discrimination and xenophobia.