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Chile Says It Will Take In Syrian Refugees

FILE - A dinghy with Syrian and Afghan refugees approaches the Greek island of Lesbos, Sept. 3, 2015. Chile has offered to host families seeking refuge from Syria's civil war.

Chile's government said Tuesday that it will take in families seeking refuge from Syria’s civil war.

It joins South American neighbors Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia, which already host refugees from the war-torn nation. In Central America, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said his country would take in 20,000 Syrians.

"To address the grave humanitarian crisis affecting thousands of Syrian citizens, Chile's government ... has begun reviewing the necessary paperwork to take in as quickly as possible Syrian families that seek refuge," the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said it was speeding up the processing of visas for Syrians who have requested them.

Europe has been struggling to cope with a flood of refugees and migrants escaping strife in the Middle East and Africa. A photo of a drowned Syrian toddler whose family was trying to reach Europe by boat triggered an outpouring of sympathy and criticism that rich countries were not doing enough to help.