SANTIAGO – President Michelle Bachelet announced that Chile will take in “a significant number” of Syrian refugees who are fleeing the civil war in their country and have sparked a serious immigration crisis in Europe.
“As a government, we’re working to take in a significant number of refugees, because we understand that the tragedy that is occurring is a tragedy for humanity,” Bachelet said Monday night.
After attending a religious service at a Santiago synagogue, Bachelet emphasized that “over the course of our history, we have always had open doors for all those who, often coming from very distant places, have approached our country, contributing to the construction of our homeland with their history and their culture.”
Former Cabinet minister Sergio Bitar, who is of Syrian heritage and one of the supporters of accepting the refugees, told reporters that “a minimum figure that we’ve proposed to the government fluctuates between 50 and 100 families.”
Bachelet’s proposal comes after the announcement of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who on Monday said that his country will provide refuge for 20,000 Syrians.
Also on Monday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said that, despite its economic difficulties and political crisis, her country has “open arms” for taking in the refugees, most of whom come from Syria, where more than 250,000 people have died in the civil war that erupted in 2011.
In addition, other Latin American countries such as Argentina and Uruguay, have had programs to receive Syrian refugees prepared for several years and are ready to continue with that policy.
Syria, with a population of about 22 million, has 7.6 million internally displaced citizens and more than four million refugees, including about two million in Turkey, more than one million in Lebanon and 629,000 in Jordan.