Standoff as migrant caravan closes Brazil-Peru International Bridge

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SAO PAULO – A humanitarian crisis is escalating in the far west Brazilian state of Acre as about 300 Haitians, Indians, Pakistanis have taken over the Friendship Bridge connecting Assis, Brazil with Peru at the Brazil-Peru-Bolivia border. Peruvian authorities are refusing entry and the immigrants are demanding to be allowed to return home through the Andean country.

The area has been a popular entry point for immigrants from many parts of the world seeking asylum in Brazil. Having failed in their quest to obtain legal papers but unable to be deported due to Brazilian laws and international treaties that prevent deportation into potential harm’s way, the immigrants have been staying in empty schools in the area, but hygienic and toilet facilities are not sufficient and the municipality of 7500 is stressing its resources providing food baskets and help for the immigrants. Described as hungry and exhausted, the immigrants say they want to return home by way of Peru but are suspected of really wanting to make their way to the United States. Brazilian authorities say they have been in the area for months, under precarious conditions, sleeping in open barracks, living off state help and charity, and bathing in the Acre River.

By Milan Sime Martinić