LIMA, Feb 5, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Seven Haitian migrants have died this year in the Andean highlands of Peru as their efforts to cross into Bolivia have been stymied by protests against the Lima government, the UN refugee agency said Saturday.
Six of the deaths, including that of a minor, occurred in the small town of Desaguadero, where a bridge over a river of the same name links Peru and Bolivia, Iris Bano Romero, a UN refugee agency spokeswoman in Peru, told AFP.
The other death, she said, occurred in the town of Juli, also near the Bolivian border.
The Haitians fell victim to a combination of factors: difficult access to food, shelter and supplies, and temperatures -- at an altitude of 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) -- sometimes near freezing.
In addition to the deaths, two other people have been hospitalized with pneumonia since Thursday, one of them in critical condition, Bano Romero said.
She said the deaths and illnesses occurred despite the "very generous" efforts of locals to help.
The Haitians, some of whom had passed years in Chile or Brazil, were hoping to eventually reach the United States, Bano Romero said.
Blockades erected amid the political crisis in Peru have made life difficult for both locals and migrants, making it hard to obtain basics like food and fuel, or to pay for rent and other services, the UN official said.
The blockades on Desaguadero's international bridge are among several around the country erected to protest the government of President Dina Boluarte.
She succeeded Pedro Castillo as president after he was ousted from office and arrested on December 7 after attempting to dissolve Congress and govern by decree.