“You can lose your life along the way. There are many dangerous people: they rob you, stab you, attack you. We could stay in some hostels, but they are often not safe,” says Mariana*, a Venezuelan woman who received support in an EU-funded shelter in Santiago de Chile.
When her family had nothing to eat, she had no choice but to flee Venezuela. “Sometimes you have to beg for a ride, and, for us women, the price we are asked to pay is in sexual favours. If you deny yourself, you don't know what the reaction might be. It is frightening and humiliating”.
67-year-old Juana was assaulted and robbed when she reached Bolivia. She had left Venezuela 3 weeks before. “There are armed bandits assaulting the trucks we use to get a ride,” she says.
Mariana and Juana are among the more than 440,000 displaced Venezuelans currently in Chile, often living on the streets with their families and in highly vulnerable situations. Many have spent weeks walking across South America facing various risks.
The EU works with UNHCR and its local partners to provide vulnerable Venezuelans with emergency shelter, food, and legal advice on their rights.
*Name has been changed for protection reasons.
Story by Daniele Pagani, Regional Information Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
Publication date: 16/03/2023