Statement by Dr Eduardo Stein, Joint Special Representative of UNHCR and IOM for Venezuelan refugees and migrants

It is with sadness and dismay that I have followed the deplorable events in Iquique, Chile, which affected a group of migrants and refugees from Venezuela.

These acts of intolerance go against the spirit of solidarity, welcome and respect for fundamental rights that the people and government of Chile have historically demonstrated, receiving Venezuelans with generosity, in the same way that, in the past, Venezuelan people opened their doors to many Chilean refugees and migrants.

Although isolated and unrepresentative, these acts of hatred, intolerance and xenophobia are extremely worrying. Before them, we are confident that the Chilean government and society at large will respond clearly and unequivocally: discrimination and xenophobia have no place in our countries and must be firmly condemned. Political, social and community leaders must appeal to build a culture of peace, calm and restraint, promoting coexistence and respect for diversity and the rights of all people, condemning discriminatory and xenophobic attitudes and actions.

The role of opinion-makers in the media and social networks is also key, reporting the facts in an impartial and responsible way, avoiding exacerbating discriminatory and xenophobic attitudes and actions, and outright condemning any physical or verbal attacks against refugees, migrants, and other foreigners when they occur.

UNHCR and IOM will continue to support the efforts of the Government of Chile and other countries in the region to address the most urgent needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, as well as to support host communities.

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