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Brazil Experiences Record Wave of Venezuelan Migrants

In the first three months of 2023, a record 51,838 Venezuelan migrants and refugees entered Brazil.

This is the highest number ever recorded in the first three months of the year since 2020. Operation Shelter (Operação Acolhida), executed and coordinated by the Federal government, with the support of federal entities, United Nations (U.N.) agencies, international organizations, civil society organizations, and private entities, totaling more than 100 partners, released the data. The operation, launched in the state of Roraima, on the border with Venezuela, seeks to welcome, provide humanitarian aid, and carry out the integration into society of Venezuelans.

From January 2017, when the data began to be collected, until April of 2023, 903,279 Venezuelans entered Brazil.

Alejandro Guzmán, director of institutional relations at Brazilian nongovernmental organization (NGO) Casa Venezuela, links the high number of migrants in the first quarter of the year to the harsher economic situation in the neighboring country. The NGO works with training and the socioeconomic integration of the migrants, referring them to job openings offered by a network of companies. The Venezuelans participate in the selection process and, if approved, are hired. Guzmán also says that the new arrivals in Brazil are socially extremely vulnerable, which makes it difficult for the NGO to find jobs for them in Brazil.

“We felt the impact of this increase in the three months of the year because we realized that people were arriving now in very vulnerable conditions, with almost no training, no profession, in conditions that are very difficult for us to place in the job market,” Guzmán told Diálogo. “Some can almost only speak. We are trying to train them in some areas such as hairdressing, manicures, to see if we can get them employed.”

Currently, the NGO is in partnership with the Cerzindo project, a fashion lab for immigrants and refugees, offering a sewing course for Venezuelan women in São Paulo. Casa Venezuela also offers courses to learn Portuguese and assists some 3,000 people per month with all kinds of help to enter the job market.

“That number of people increased in the first three months of the year because there was a 300 percent devaluation of the Venezuelan currency. The current situation in Venezuela is even more frightening. The current minimum wage corresponds to […] some $7 [a month], which is not even enough to buy 12 eggs at the market. So other people have decided to leave the country. Even shelters that were closed had to be opened to receive them,” Gusmán said, adding that he sees the situation in Venezuela with pessimism. “The U.N. itself understands that what is happening in Venezuela is a complex humanitarian, economic, and political crisis.”

Despite all the difficulties, Operation Shelter reached on March 30 the mark of 100,000 refugees and migrants from Venezuela in Brazil. In nearly five years, more than 930 Brazilian municipalities have welcomed citizens from the neighboring country.

On June 14, the Brazilian Ministry of Development and Social Assistance issued a decree allocating more than $ 1.8 million to 15 municipalities and 10 Brazilian states to strengthen the social welfare network for immigrants and refugees.

“Our role is to help the municipalities and states to provide for the basic needs of these vulnerable groups, without leaving cultural differences aside. Besides welcoming, it is necessary to create a path of new opportunities,” said Minister of Development and Social Assistance Wellington Dias.

Source : Dialogo Americas