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Chile: Situation Report – January - February 2021

Situation Report
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• According to data provided by the Investigation Police (PDI), 4,271 people entered Chile during January 2021, 81 per cent of whom were Venezuelans. A concentration of 1,600 refugees and migrants from Venezuela built up in the border town of Colchane, who could not move on due to lack of resources and livelihood support, creating a situation that overwhelmed the response capacities of local and regional authorities. In this regard, on February 4 the government decided to reinforce border control under Decree 265 that authorizes the collaboration of the Armed Forces. A few days later, under the same containment measures, 138 Venezuelans and Colombians were expelled from the country and deported to their countries of origin. National and international media widely covered the events.

• By February, local authorities reported more than 2,200 people in six quarantine temporary shelters in Iquique, which is the city of Chile with the third most active cases of COVID-19, generating significant pressure from the local community after several months in quarantine. Authorities and local communities in several areas in the Tarapacá Region showed their discontent with the situation and the high number of families living on the streets.

• With the reinforcement of border control by the government, the population movements have considerly decreased. However, it is possible that refugees and migrants are trying to find other ways to enter the country, using other irregular crossings like Ollague (on the border between Chile and Bolivia) to reach Calama.

• Press publications, opinion columns, work on the ground, and meetings with R4V partners, among others, reflect a politicization of the migration issue. In the framework of the change to the Constitution, the Constitutional Convention (Convención Constitucional election) is scheduled for 11 April, are is directly impacting the conversations and approach to the situation of refugees and migrants from Venezuela.