Chilean air force plane to evacuate hundreds from Venezuela in crisis

SANTIAGO – Chile will send an Air Force plane to Venezuela later this month to evacuate its citizens due to the growing humanitarian crisis in the South American country, Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero said.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will help an important group of Chileans who need to return from Venezuela. Due to the serious difficulties they face to live there, they want to return to our country and we will help them to return to Chile,” Ampuero said in a statement on Monday.

The minister confirmed that an Air Force plane that is traveling to Haiti within the framework of the “Humanitarian Return Plan”, will transfer Chileans living in Venezuela.

He added that the flight will take place “between the third and fourth week of November.”

In 2018, the Chilean Foreign Ministry has already helped 75 citizens, who were in a vulnerable situation, to return to the country, while there are still over 200 requests, according to the minister.

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Annual inflation is running at about 149,000 percent Venezuela amid widespread food and medicine shortages. During Chile’s right-wing military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s and 1980s, Venezuela gave sanctuary to thousands of exiled Chileans.

“The situation in Venezuela is, without a doubt, special. The serious humanitarian crisis has triggered the number of requests from Chileans who want to return. We estimate that the first flight with returning Chileans should accommodate about half of that group,” Ampuero noted.

According to the UN Migration Agency, the flow of migrants from Venezuela increased more than tenfold over the past years — from 89,000 in 2015 to 900,000 in 2017.

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