Chile welcomes over 60 Syrian refugees

SANTIAGO – Chile has joined other Latin American nations in offering safe harbor to Syrian families fleeing civil war.

President Michelle Bachelet welcomed more than 60 Syrian refugees at Santiago airport on Thursday. She greeted 14 newly arrived Syrian families, who will be resettled in furnished homes with social benefits, including monthly stipends, schooling, healthcare and language classes.

“We know you have struggled and what we hope is that, in our country, you will find a place to rebuild your lives,” Bachelet said.

More than 2 million people fleeing wars or persecution have joined the ranks of the world’s refugees in 2017, according to the United Nations, even as the United States and countries in Europe have begun to implement ever more restrictive asylum policies.

The humanitarian crisis has prompted several South American nations, including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia, to begin accepting small numbers of refugees from Syria.

Latin America is known for taking in refugees and immigrants from other parts of the world. During the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s subsequent dictatorship, Spaniards fled to Latin America, as did many Jewish refugees during and after World War II.