Syrian Refugees Resettled in Chile under UN Migration and Refugee Agencies' Programme


Beirut/Santiago – On 11 October, a group of 66 Syrian refugees departed from Beirut, Lebanon, to Santiago, Chile under the Emerging Resettlement Countries Joint Support Mechanism (ERCM), which is co-implemented by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

At Santiago airport, Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile, welcomed the refugees (38 adults and 28 children). Half of them will be located in Villa Alemana and the other half in Macul, thanks to agreements between the Ministry of Interior and those municipalities.

“Our wish is that they, step by step, start leaving behind their fear, pain and uncertainty. We are aware that they come from a difficult history and we want them to find in our country a land that welcomes them with friendship and good will, so they can rebuild their history and raise their families in peace and safety,” President Bachelet said in her welcome message.

“The State of Chile has the obligation, but also the privilege, of extending its hand, because we are a land of democracy, peace and respect,” added President Bachelet.

The ERCM came out of the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in September 2016, during which a number of countries – including Chile – pledged to receive refugees with support from the international community.

IOM and UNHCR coordinated the logistics with Lebanese and Chilean authorities, who conducted selection interviews in Beirut for this group.

All refugees underwent a health assessment according to the health protocol coordinated with the Government of Chile, to identify and address any pre-existing health conditions, and were re-assessed shortly before departure to ensure they were fit-for-travel. The Consul of the Embassy of Chile came to the airport to personally bid farewell to the refugees and wish them well on the journey to their new lives in Chile.

The Syrian refugees attended a pre-departure orientation session delivered by experienced IOM trainers. These sessions help to prepare the refugees for their initial period of resettlement by providing them with accurate information about life in Chile, as well as by helping refugees develop realistic expectations about their future. Through carefully tailored training activities, designed to actively engage participants, IOM helps refugees develop the necessary skills and attitudes that help newcomers successfully navigate and adapt to their new society.  Pre-departure orientation also provides a forum during which refugees can express their concerns and raise any questions they may have.

The ERCM helps emerging resettlement countries select, prepare, and assist with the movement of refugees, while developing systems to support refugees integrate after arrival. IOM and UNHCR are currently working closely with Argentina, Chile, and Brazil in this regard.

This process was coordinated by the Ministry of Interior, IOM, UNHCR and Caritas Chile.

For more information, please contact T. Craig Murphy at IOM HQ, Tel: +41 797 01 25 10, Email:

  • Syrian refugees departing from Beirut after attending pre-departure orientation sessions about life in Chile. Photo: UN Migration Agency/Marielle Tra 2017