By Melissa Monzon

At 3695 meters above sea level is Tata Santiago camp, located in the district of Pisiga, Bolivia, on the border with Chile. This camp was conditioned to receive the people who were returning to Bolivia, and who had to comply with mandatory isolation as a preventive measure, before continuing their way to their respective destinations within the country.

The camp had a capacity of more than 400 people and was designed so that those who were there could access various services. There were approximately three thousand people who passed through the camp, in different shifts, from its opening almost three months ago, until its closure on Wednesday, July 1st.

All the people who passed through Tata Santiago were on their way home in different locations of the country; some traveled alone, some with their families. Many had temporary jobs in the neighboring country of Chile, but in the context of COVID-19, they lost them, and because they didn’t have an income anymore, decided to return to Bolivia.

Being able to communicate with their families became very important in the two weeks each shift had to stay in the camp. For this reason, the Bolivian Red Cross granted the service of restoring family links, which allowed people to be in contact with those they love during their stay in the camp.

Inter-institutional coordination becomes a key factor in cases like this, and the Bolivian Red Cross knows it well. For this reason, they coordinated with the Vice Ministry of Civil Defence, for actions for the administration of the camp, and with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for the management and coverage of basic humanitarian needs. On the other hand, in coordination with Civil Defence, the capacity of the camp could be increased so that the sheltered had a decent and safe standard of living. In addition, BRC also coordinate with the health system to attend the necessary cases.

Finally, coordination was made with each new group that arrived at the camp, for the support in cleaning tasks and food delivery, as well as the co-habitation rules, such as the time of use of each room, and mainly, they underwent constant medical checks during their stay. A didactic room was stablished for the children, where they painted, played and watched movies. In this way, everyone collaborated for a good coexistence.

The Bolivian Red Cross has also been supporting the administration of two other camps in the frontiers with Brasil and Argentina. Also, in the response to COVID-19, it has been providing health care and psychosocial support, disinfections services, delivery of food and hygiene kits, and information por prevention and care in Spanish and in native languages.