Brazil installs more shelters before avalanche of refugees from Venezuela

BRASILIA – The Brazilian government is preparing the installation of new shelters for refugees in the state of Roraima in the face of an eventual new wave of Venezuelan immigrants, who since last year have arrived by thousands to the northernmost region.

“We can not be surprised” by a resurgence of the exodus, said General Eduardo Pazuello, head of the humanitarian operation deployed to help Venezuelans in the border city of Pacaraima and in Boa Vista, capital of Roraima.

Pazuello clarified that the migratory flow, which has taken some 40,000 Venezuelans to Brazil, has “stabilized” and that there are no signs that it will escalate, although two new shelters will still be installed, with which they will reach nine, that others could be added if necessary.

However, officials of humanitarian agencies working in the area said that hundreds of Venezuelans still enter Brazil every day and that the delicate economic, social and political crisis in Venezuela has not been overcome, which leads to the expectation that the flow will increase.

Venezuelan immigrants in Latin America jumped to 900,000 in just two years

“The causes of this exodus have not been overcome,” said a spokesman for a human rights organization that asked not to be identified. The vast majority of Venezuelans who have arrived in Roraima have obtained employment and remain on their own, as many others have chosen to settle in other areas of Brazil, including through plans by the Brazilian government to settle them in other cities.

Those initiatives, however, have not decompressed the situation in Boa Vista, where the authorities estimate that there are at least 6,000 Venezuelans in situations of economic and social “vulnerability”. Of these, some 4,000 are in the seven shelters installed by the Government in Boa Vista, which are supervised by various human rights groups and international organizations, such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The Spanish Isabel Márquez, representative of that organization in Brazil, told reporters that, in recent months, the profile of people arriving from Venezuela has changed and added to a larger number of members of the poorer social classes. “They are increasingly vulnerable people, who even come with moderate or low nutrition rates,” he said.

The Government of President Michel Temer has announced resources in the order of 190 million reais (about 55 million dollars) to meet the emergency during this year, but still the pressure in Roraima is growing.