Brazil begins process of resettling, integrating Venezuelan migrants

World Today

In Brazil the army is now patrolling parts of the border with Venezuela. President Michel Temer mobilized the troops, following clashes between Venezuelan migrants and local residents.

The government is also starting a new program to resettle and integrate the new arrivals. CGTN’s Lucrecia Franco has details.

Chanting “get out, get out,” Brazilians from the country’s border state of Roraima drove hundreds of Venezuelan refugees back over the border this month and burned two makeshift camps. They say there is no space for more migrants.

And there isn’t–streets and parks are overrun. But now a select few Venezuelan migrants are being transferred to other cities. Last month twenty-five adults and seven children arrived in Rio de Janeiro and are temporarily living in this comfortable house in the city’s suburbs. Most are women–the majority trained professionals who are more readily employable. Others, like Lismari Vegas, are single mothers who tell an all-too-common story.

“I had to leave my country because my son is one year old, much too young to go through so many hardships,” she said.

The hope is to quickly expand the program and find shelters for Venezuelans all across Brazil. Funding is coming from the federal government, the U.N. Agency for Refugees and Caritas, a Catholic Church organization.

“The idea of the program is to remove Venezuelans from the border areas and reduce the tensions caused by the intense influx of migrants,” said Karla Ellwein, a social worker with the Catholic charity, Caritas.

This is Rio’s first official transition home for those who crossed the border fleeing hunger and social unrest. Venezuelans settling in Rio de Janeiro are granted not just a roof over their heads and food but also help in finding a job that most urgently needs.

To start, the newly-arrived Venezuelans are receiving psychological help, Portuguese lessons and information on how to obtain documents and work permits. This young couple, both dentists, are now in charge of organizing the household chores. They say they lost everything.

“All the money that we could get by selling all our things we used to buy a plane ticket to come here to Brazil,” said Luis Padriquez.

The challenge for resettlement, though, is in the overwhelming numbers. So far this year, some 800 Venezuelans have been transferred to other Brazilian states. That’s about the number of Venezuelans estimated to be pouring into the country every single day.