GENEVA – Brazil’s strategy of voluntarily relocating Venezuelan refugees and migrants from the border state of Roraima to other Brazilian cities has benefited over 100,000 people since it was launched five years ago, according to Brazil’s Ministry of Social Development and Assistance, Family and the Fight Against Hunger.
This total represents nearly a quarter of the 425,000 Venezuelans living in Brazil.
Individuals and families have been relocated from Roraima to more than 930 cities throughout the huge country, where they can find better opportunities to significantly improve their quality of life, make a greater contribution and achieve autonomy and integration. Women and children account for roughly 80 per cent of the beneficiaries.
A survey conducted in 2021 among 2,000 Venezuelans who were part of the initiative found that they had better access to formal jobs, housing, and education programmes after being relocated and eight out of ten adults had found employment or started their own businesses.
“The relocation strategy guarantees protection and inclusion, providing effective ways for Venezuelans in the country to restart their lives with dignity,” said Davide Torzilli, UNHCR Representative in Brazil. “Based around close collaboration between various institutions and organizations, the strategy represents an effective solution and a model for the region and beyond.”
Before heading to other cities, Venezuelans who voluntarily participate in the relocation strategy receive proper documentation, including a national work permit and an entry in the Individual Taxpayer Registry (CPF). They are also duly vaccinated according to the national immunization schedule.
“Strengthening and improving inclusion through the relocation strategy is crucial for those who have decided to stay in Brazil,” said IOM Brazil’s Chief of Mission, Stéphane Rostiaux. “With the support of local governments, civil society organizations and the private sector, it is possible to promote long-lasting inclusion, allowing Venezuelans to break stereotypes, create solutions and contribute to the development of host communities.”
The strategy, known as “interiorization,” was launched in 2018 as part of Operação Acolhida (Operation Welcome), the Brazilian Government’s humanitarian response to the arrival of Venezuelan refugees and migrants. It offers a lifeline and fosters integration by helping people find new job opportunities or reunite with family or friends in other parts of the country.
The relocation strategy and Operação Acolhida are supported by the Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela (R4V), which is co-led by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), with the participation of 55 civil society organizations and other UN agencies in Brazil. Municipalities receiving the relocated Venezuelans also support the initiative.