Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Brazil: Number of refugees up nearly 70% in four years

Source: Government of Brazil

Ivan Richard reports from Agência Brasil
Edited by: Valéria Aguiar / Nira Foster

Over the last four years, the number of refugees in Brazil skyrocketed from 4,357 in 2010 to 7,289 this year up to October—a surge of nearly 70%, according to data released today (Nov 18) by the National Committee for Refugees (Conare). Women account for 25% of these people.

In the same period, the percentage a of requests for refuge granted by the Brazilian government leapt 1,240%—from 150 in 2010 to 2,032 this year up to October 2014. “Brazil is now among the destinations chosen by refugees and the reason behind the rise in the number of requests is an improvement in the international image of our country. Nations see conditions for protecting refugees in Brazil, a warm nation. A refugee is in search of a life under protection and not a country where there's no guarantee,” said National Justice Secretary and Conare chairman Paulo Abrão.

The refugees come from 81 countries, chief among which Syria, Colombia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lebanese, Liberian, Palestinian, Iraqi, and Bolivian nationals also answer to a large percentage. According to Conare, the profile of the common refugee in Brazil has suffered significant changes since 2012, when the country signed a clause applicable to Angolans and Liberians by which they are given permanent resident rights in the country.

The total amount of requests soared by over 930% from 2010 to 2014. Up to October this year, as many as 8,302 requests had been reported, 2,164 of which were made by Senegalese citizens, 1,150 by Nigerians, and 1,090 by Ghanaians. “We're not experiencing any immigration crisis,” Abrão pointed out. In his view, the number of immigrants in developed countries ranges from 15% to 20% of the population. In Argentina, this figure stands at 5%, whereas in Brazil it adds up to less than 1%.

According to the secretary, Brazil needs to bring its legislation up-to-date so as to make it easier for foreigners to enter the country and have their rights enforced. He mentioned that, during the military dictatorship, Brazil resorted to other countries in an attempt to find refuge for Brazilian citizens, and now it is time for the country to do the same.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, the sharp growth in the number of Syrian refugees in Brazil may be accounted for by Brazil's humanitarian position regarding the conflict and the easy entry Syrians are granted, with a tourist visa and a 90-day term for requesting refugee status.

The decline in the amount of Colombian refugees, in turn, is partly attributed to the peace negotiations between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

People may choose to ask for refuge if they are living outside their country due to founded fears of persecution related to race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion. Those who were forced to leave their country because of an armed conflict, general violence or a massive human rights violation are also considered refugees.

Translated by Fabrício Ferreira