Bolivians are treated in an "inhuman way" over sea access, says Evo Morales

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Evo Morales Ayuma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, addresses UN Human Rights Council. (Screen grab from UNTV)

Bolivian families face "inhuman" treatment because of a long-standing international border dispute, President Evo Morales told the UN Human Rights Council on Friday.

Addressing Member States in Geneva, President Morales explained how the rights of "whole families" are violated when they try to cross Chile from landlocked Bolivia for access to the coast.

In 2013, Bolivia filed proceedings with the International Court of Justice demanding that Chile grant it access to the Pacific Ocean.

Priyanka Shankar has more.

The issue of sea access is a matter of economic survival for the landlocked, Plurinational State of Bolivia.

Eighty per cent of its exports and half of its imports come via road from Chile, which has been responsible for causing suffering for many Bolivians, President Evo Morales told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

President Morales described how "controls, requirements and the unilaterally imposed measures by Chile mean that hundreds of Bolivian trucks have to wait for days at the border.

"The controls, the requirements and the unilaterally imposed measures by Chile ensure that hundreds of trucks are obliged to wait for days at an end at the border, making queuing in order to enter the country. And that means that the carriers have to be bear the extremely cold climate in the area; up to -15 degrees centigrade, the area being 4,500 (metres) above sea level. There is a lack of medical attention in the area. And there is a basic lack of food and basic services."

The issue of Bolivia's right to sea access is currently before the International Court of Justice.

Ahead of the president's speech, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein praised Bolivia's engagement on tackling climate change.

Zeid also appealed to the Bolivian authorities to strengthen the rights of indigenous peoples by adopting a draft law that's been before Parliament since 2014.

Priyanka Shankar, United Nations

Duration: 1’51″

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