Some 50 thousand Venezuelan refugees resettled under gov’t initiative

Approximately 260 thousand Venezuelan immigrants live in Brazil

Published in 23/04/2021 - 10:18 By Pedro Peduzzi - Brasília

Operation Shelter (Operação Acolhida in the original) now has 50 thousand refugees and immigrants resettled across 675 Brazilian municipalities. The operation was created in February 2018 to protect Venezuelans crossing the borders, providing humanitarian aid to immigrants.

The plan is spearheaded by the Brazilian government with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other UN agencies, as well as independent agencies.

The goal of the efforts is to ensure the social and economic inclusion of those who left Venezuela and saw in Brazil a chance to start life anew. The initiative comprises moving from shelters in Roraima state—where Brazil shares national borders with Venezuela—to shelter and integration centers in the target city, family and social reunion, and an appointed job spot.

“In the first stage, shelter and integration centers in the target location offer temporary lodging and support services for local integration, which may be provided by the government at federal, state, district, municipal level, or by society. There are also the so-called transit residences, organized by independent entities in the Federal District, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Cuiabá, Conde, and Porto Alegre. UNHCR supports the one in Manaus,” UNHCR reported.

Migrantes venezuelanos vindos da cidade de Boa Vista, em Roraima, são acolhidos em uma paróquia para orientações e encaminhados para casas alugadas pelo programa de integração da Cáritas Brasileira, em São Sebastião, no Distrito Federal.
Of the beneficiaries of the resettling plan, 47 percent are women and girls, and 37 percent are below 18. A total of 88 percent of resettled Venezuelans traveled in family groups - Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil

Before they set out for other cities, Venezuelans wishing to join the initiative must meet a number of requirements, the UN agency says. Among them is having a regular status in the country, which includes having requested refugee status or temporary residence, in addition to a Brazilian tax-payer number of labor booklet. Their vaccination card must be up to date, and they must undergo a medical checkup. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, even stricter monitoring and medical criteria were established,” the agency notes.

“Approximately 260 thousand Venezuelan refugees live in Brazil. This means that one of every five Venezuelans received some form of support from Operation Shelter,” Brazil’s Citizenship Minister João Roma said Tuesday (Apr. 20) during the ceremony celebrating 50 thousand immigrants resettled under the program.

“More than strengthening data regarding the number of refugees and immigrants, we work so that they can count on the availability of schools and day cares upon arrival, with employment and access to the social protection network maintained by the Brazilian government,” highlighting the role of its social work centers.

At the ceremony, Luiz Eduardo Ramos, the president’s chief of staff and chair of the Federal Committee for Emergency Assistance, said that Brazil “will always be one of the country that welcomes peoples the most,” adding that, in sheltering Venezuelans, “it assumes a central role” in South America.

A UNHCR study that surveyed 360 resettled Venezuelan families shows that 77 percent of them found work a few weeks after they arrived at their target cities. The survey also indicates that most had income enough to pay rent, and that all families had at least one child in school. “Of the beneficiaries of the resettling plan, 47 percent are women and girls, and 37 percent are below 18. A total of 88 percent of resettled Venezuelans traveled in family groups, whereas 12 percent traveled on their own,” the text reads.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Valéria Aguiar / Nira Foster

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