Rally staged in Rio in remembrance of six years since war in Syria began

Syrians make up a quarter of Brazil's population of refugees

Published in 15/03/2017 - 18:31 By Vinícius Lisboa reports from Agência Brasil - Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro - Ato pela Paz reúne artistas e crianças refugiadas, no Cristo Redentor, para lembrar os 6 anos de guerra na Síria (Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brasil)

Brazil received 2.5 thousand Syrian refugees ever since the beginning of the war, which corresponds to a quarter of all refugees registered as such in the country today.Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brasil

A rally staged today (Mar. 15) at the Christ the Redeemer, the monument on the Corcovado mountain, to remember the six years of the Syrian war gathered representatives from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Brazilian government, and the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, in addition to artists and families who have taken refuge in Brazil.

In her speech, UNCHR representative Isabel Marquez highlighted the humanitarian tragedy in the Asian country and called for international efforts against the aggravation of the crisis.

She said she was sorry refugees had turned into a political issue. “We're facing a deadlock regarding the way refugees are received and the way the world responds to their needs. The world can no longer turn its back to Syria, or raise barriers for those win need of humanitarian help.”

Ever since the beginning of the war in Syria, 6.3 million people left their homes and moved within the country, whereas 4.9 million seek refuge in neighboring countries or in other continents. Brazil received 2.5 thousand Syrian refugees in this period, which corresponds to a quarter of all refugees registered as such in the country today.

According to Gustavo Marrone, National Justice Secretary and chairman of the National Committee for Refugees, the term “refugee” in Brazil is still the object of much ignorance, as the term is still associated with crimes committed by a foreigner in their country of origin.

A nation with a large number of descendents of immigrants from all over the world, Brazil is a country open to refugees, Marrone believes. “We should concern ourselves not only with receiving [immigrants], but also with integrating them with society, so they can live the way we live here, with our problems and our virtues.”


The Syrian families sheltered by the NGO I Know my Rights attended the rally by the Christ the Redeemer, atop the Corcovado mountain, and participating in the event by telling their own stories.

“First we went to Egypt, but we didn't manage to get the documents, so we came here. My city in Syria was the first to get in the war,” said Batul Alhalbaj, 29. She and her husband landed in Brazil with a daughter two years and five months ago. They had two other children here.

With a degree in nursing, the refugee says she faces a number of difficulties stemming from language. Her husband, an electrician, works in Brazil as a waiter: “the one big problem for me is the language.”

Also unemployed is Tamador Faheraldeen, 31, mother of two. She and her husband left Syria four months after the conflict broke out. “I left Syria because we were terrified. After the war started, we stayed for four months, but were really scared,” said Tamador, who feels welcome in Brazil. “I like living in Brazil. People have a big heart and are always willing to help.”

Translated by Fabrício Ferreira

Fonte: Rally staged in Rio in remembrance of six years since war in Syria began

Edition: Denise Griesinger / Nira Foster

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