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Brazil ‘milestone’ decision over Venezuelan refugees

UN agency hails Brazil ‘milestone’ decision over Venezuelan refugees

6 December 2019

Brazil’s move to recognize thousands of refugees from crisis-wracked Venezuela through a new accelerated procedure, has been welcomed by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

The decision by Brazil’s National Committee for Refugees (CONARE) on Thursday to accept asylum-seekers on a “prima facie basis”, gave immediate relief to around 21,000 Venezuelans, waiting for applications to be processed. From now on, they will no longer need to wait for an interview.

“This move constitutes a milestone in refugee protection in the region” said UNHCR, and it comes after the national committee decided to recognize the situation in Venezuela was causing “serious and generalized human rights violations” under the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees.

Oil-rich Venezuela has become mired in a years-long political, economic and humanitarian crisis, with the Government and main opposition battling for legitimacy, while infrastructure and services teeter on the brink of collapse.

So far, around 750,000 asylum claims have been filed worldwide by those fleeing Venezuela, the majority in Latin America and the Caribbean. Brazil has registered more than 120,000 asylum-seekers, according to latest official figures.

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500 Venezuela refugees arrive each day

An average of 500 Venezuelans are continuing to cross into Brazil every day, mostly into the northern and ioslated state of Roraima.

“UNHCR reiterates its readiness to continue providing technical and operational support to enhance national capacities to process asylum claims”, said the agency.

“We are committed to working to secure greater international support for the Brazilian response and we hope that Brazil will continue to use its regional leadership in the protection of those forcibly displaced, especially in the context of the current Venezuelan crisis.”

Earlier this year, UNHCR began encouraging governments to recognize the refugee status of Venezuelans through group-based determinations, such as the prima facie approach now adopted by Brazil.

UNHCR said it would continue to encourage other countries in the region to do the same, as “the magnitude of the current outflows poses complex challenges and may lead to asylum systems being overwhelmed.”

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