Uruguay is opening its borders to refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war. Uruaguay is now the first Latin American country to offer not only resettlement to displaced Syrians, but a program to pay for it as well. CCTV America’s Joel Richard reports.
It is one of the last decisions made by outgoing President Jose Mujica. The 79-year-old leader personally oversaw Uruguay’s program to help refugees escape the crisis in Syria, covering the cost of travel and helping start new lives in South America. The Uruguay Human Rights Secretary is coordinating the project.
“Uruguay has a debt of gratitude with the world. 30 years ago, the dictatorship that devastated Uruguay expelled many Uruguayans who had to leave the repression. We were welcomed by the world. The least we can do is return solidarity with solidarity,” Javier Miranda from the Uruguay Human Rights Secretary said.
The first families to relocate from the conflict arrived earlier this month. The program is split into two phases. In total, 120 refugees will be received in Uruguay. In February, seven more families will arrive. They will be given Spanish classes and help in accessing homes and jobs, not only in Montevideo but around the country.
The Uruguayan government recognizes that it is a small number of families it is able to help, but the spirit of this program is to help those they can and set an international example.