Syrian Refugee Crisis: Chile to Welcome Undisclosed Number of Refugees
After briefly debating whether or not to take in dozens of refugee families that have fled a war-torn Syria, Chile has decide that it will.
President Michelle Bachelet announced her country will welcome "an important number of refugees." Speaking at a religious ceremony on Monday, Bachelet declined to specify the country of origin of the incoming refugees, but on Sunday her foreign minister, Heraldo Muñoz, mentioned that Chile was looking into receiving Syrians fleeing the civil war.
As quoted in Reuters, Muñoz said, "It's a situation that is being evaluated. The government is deeply worried about this humanitarian situation."
The Associated Press reports Bachelet said her nation will welcome the refugees because the tragedy is one that affects all of humanity.
In accepting Syrian refugees, Chile has followed the example of Uruguay, which welcomed 42 Syrian refugees in 2014. Argentina has also announced that it will accept Syrians refugees.
This weekend Pope Francis addressed the current migrant crisis that is facing the world and Europe in particular. As previously reported, Pope Francis called upon every European religious center to take in one refugee family in a gesture of solidarity, saying, "I appeal to the parishes, the religious communities, the monasteries and sanctuaries of all Europe to ... take in one family of refugees.”
Chile’s generosity toward Syrian refugees is coming at a time of great economic stress.
The government had said that it would like it to wipe out its current budget deficit by 2018. However, this year, a slump of almost 20 percent in the price of their main export copper has made this plan infeasible. As quoted in Reuters, Chilean Finance Minister Rodrigo Valdes said that dealing with the deficit at this stage would be difficult.
“It would be damaging to the economy and a bit of a knee-jerk reaction," he said.
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