Statement by Dr. Eduardo Stein, Joint Special Representative of UNHCR and IOM for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela
In view of the recent events in Iquique, on the northern border of Chile, I would like to express my deepest concern about these acts of violence that undermine human rights and which must be categorically condemned.
Nobody deserves to be discriminated against. Building a culture of peace that promotes coexistence and respect for diversity is the responsibility of all those who make up a community.
It is important that authorities and opinion leaders promote respect for diversity, while being supportive of both people on the move and the communities that generously welcome them.
Inclusion starts at the community level, particularly in border and first reception areas. These communities have unconditionally opened their doors to support those arriving on foot in situations of extreme vulnerability. We must recognize these efforts and not leave these communities behind, strengthening, in the first instance, the basic services that benefit both the local population and the refugees and migrants.
We know that the pandemic has impacted our health, our incomes and our daily lives in the region and around the world. But it is only through dialogue, solidarity, and respect for diversity that we will be able to resolve the multiple challenges that our region has been facing for some time.
At the same time, refugees and migrants from Venezuela have an obligation to respect the laws and regulations of the countries where they find themselves. However, isolated events – which do not represent the community – should not be used to incite discrimination and violence.
History has shown that refugees and migrants are a crucial driver of development for host societies, as well as actors of cohesion in the region. Their contribution to sustainable development is considerable: from exchange and generation of values through cultural diversity, to knowledge sharing and the promotion of innovation.
UNHCR, IOM and the partners of the Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V) will continue to support the Chilean authorities and other countries in the region, both to address the most urgent needs of Venezuelans, and to support the communities that host them and work together for their inclusion.
We also call on the international community to continue to support Chile and the countries in the region that have unconditionally offered protection to refugees and migrants from Venezuela. This responsibility is a shared one.