Safeguarding Human Rights of Vulnerable Migrant Communities in Chile

March 17, 2022

Teck’s partnership with Fundación Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes (SJM Chile) is providing humanitarian aid to migrant and refugee families in the Tarapacá region.

As a global mining company and an adopter of the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) on Business and Human Rights, Teck is committed to respecting the rights of our employees, the communities in which we are active, and others affected by our activities. This includes respecting the human rights of vulnerable groups, such as migrants and refugees.  

Immigration to Chile from neighbouring countries has been rising steadily for decades, with the situation being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and by border closures in 2020. Many new immigrants live in dire conditions with no means to meet their basic needs. In the Tarapacá region, where our Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 (QB2) project is located, immigrants make up over 10% of the population. In 2020, Teck partnered with Fundación Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes (SJM Chile) to provide humanitarian aid to migrant and refugee families in the region, with a special focus on pregnant women and children. Through this partnership, Teck is supporting over 1,900 migrant families with aid to meet basic needs, generating awareness and guidance on safeguarding their rights, and providing livelihood support where possible.

Migrants in Chile

According to census data and estimates from the National Statistics Institute of Chile and the Chilean Department of Immigration, the migrant population in Chile increased from 1.8% in 2010 to 7.8% of the country’s total population in 2019. Migrants come to Chile for many reasons including work opportunities, family reunification, studies, displacement due to armed conflict, economic and political instability, and climate change impacts.  Of the total number of migrants in 2019, over 15,000 were refugees and asylum seekers. 80% of these refugees settle in four regions – Región Metropolitana (Santiago), Antofagasta, Valparaíso and Tarapacá.  

Providing Humanitarian Support through Collaboration

Teck has partnered with SJM Chile to provide financial support to its Migrant Support Program, which has three components. First, the organization facilitates the process of inclusion through a social care and community program. This includes providing food and essential items, rental subsidies, and support for family reunification. Second, the organization provides support to refugees and migrants on legal issues, including guidance on legal documentation work, support for those whose rights have been violated, and legal representation if required. The final component focuses on education and awareness and includes implementing educational programs that promote multiculturalism, creating awareness on human rights, and language training.

In addition to direct funding from Teck’s community investment programs, in 2020 employees at Teck Chile made a donation to SJM Chile in lieu of annual Christmas celebrations, which were canceled due to COVID-19. 

With support from Teck, SJM Chile has provided 1,920 vulnerable migrant families – prioritizing pregnant women and those with children – with welcome packages of food and essential items, temporary accommodation kits for host families, transport for family reunification and medical care, among other supports. In addition, SJM Chile also provides livelihood support through referrals to partner networks.

Expanding Our Work in this Area

Going forward, Teck will be supporting a two-year project by UNICEF Chile, which supports vulnerable migrant families, with a special focus on women and children. The project will be implemented by UNICEF Chile in 2022-2023, in collaboration with Hogar de Cristo Foundation, a local non-governmental organization. Teck’s support will help provide basic first aid for migrant families, aid to meet basic needs, and access to social programs and support networks. Emergency centers will be constructed in two villages – Colchane and Iquique – located in the Tarapacá Region. The emergency center in Colchane is expected to provide infrastructure to receive families at the border and a hosting service with information, food, clothing, basic protection, and childcare, supporting 3,600 children and 5,400 adults annually. The emergency center in Iquique is expected to provide aid to migrant families so that they can meet their basic needs, and connect them with support networks. It is expected that the center will support 600 children and 480 adults annually.

Ensuring that human rights are respected is a key aspect of sustainable development. We continue to work alongside local organizations to improve the quality of life in the communities we work in. 

Learn more about our Approach to Human Rights on our website.  

Teck’s partnership with Fundación Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes (SJM Chile) is providing humanitarian aid to migrant and refugee families in the Tarapacá region.

First Published on March 17, 2022