Refugee crisis on Brazil-Peru border expands to a third country

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Territorial incursions, bridge blockades, and now an ongoing encampment of mostly Haitian refugees that blocks passage over the Friendship Bridge that connects the two nations are growing into an unsustainable impasse, and the situation is fast-turning into a 3-country crisis, say authorities in Brazil’s far west state of Acre.

More than 400 refugees are stranded near the Brazil-Peru-Bolivia border creating a humanitarian crisis of its own, with lack of resources and even proper sanitation facilities for them, but some 60 Haitians have been demanding passage into Peru so they may make their way north, and they have set up camp on the bridge itself. Authorities in both countries have been unable to find a solution to the problem.

The crisis is made worse by “coyotes,” food shortages, health issues, and some 60 trucks on each side, loaded with food and fuel stalled along the borders, a situation that compromises the transport of goods to communities in all 3 countries, but crucial to the city of Cobija in Bolivia, a regional capital mostly unconnected to the rest of Bolivia by road. Authorities there are concerned about shortages at gas stations and food suppliers. The area also supplies the cities of Brasilea and Epitaciolandia in Brazil.

By Milan Sime Martinic