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Brazil: Venezuelans in search of food, jobs and hope push Brazilian region to breaking point10:06

Brazil: Venezuelans in search of food, jobs and hope push Brazilian region to breaking point

Brazil, Boa Vista
April 17, 2018 at 08:09 GMT -00:00 · Published

The recent influx of migrants from neighbouring Venezuela has placed a huge burden on the northern Brazilian city of Boa Vista and the surrounding region, where authorities have declared a state of emergency. The UN's UNHCR refugee agency says almost 800 Venezuelans are arriving in Brazil each day, many of them seeking asylum amid deteriorating economic conditions in their home country. Since the beginning of last year, over 52,000 Venezuelans have landed in Brazil according to the UN. Some 25,000 of those are asylum seekers and 10,000 hold temporary resident visas. The majority of new arrivals end up in the northern state of Roraima, where many make their homes in temporary accommodation facilities and makeshift camps located in the regional capital of Boa Vista. Other Venezuelan migrants are forced to live rough while they search for jobs. At one camp managed by the UNHCR, Venezuelan migrants are provided with a safe haven while they wait to move on to other parts of Brazil in search of employment. One man staying at the facility, Hector Palomo, said he had left his 12 children in Venezuela while he looks for a job in Brazil. "I would like to bring all of them. Not to a shelter, but to a home, where they have stability and they feel comfortable, where I have a job," he said from the camp in Boa Vista. The turmoil of leaving home for pastures new is also compounded by the lack of infrastructure and organisation when migrants arrive at their destination. Waiting times are a common theme voiced by the migrants. Pedro Salgado spoke of a 6 km (3.8 mi) long queue just to cross the Brazilian border and, after the arduous journey, he will likely be forced to join thousands of others in search of food and shelter. The lack of paid work back home in Venezuela is the breaking point for many. With the peso plummeting and the economy in dire straits, migrating to neighbouring countries such as Brazil and Colombia has become the only way out for many."We want to work. Look, we have to collect scraps left at the market to be able to eat. We don't have any money. So we have to search through the bins for food," explained Luiz Suarez, another migrant. He said the situation in his homeland is made all the worse by the fact that it is rich in mismanaged natural resources.Boa Vista has also seen a greater strain put on its healthcare facilities. Marcia Monteiro Marques, a technical director of gynecology at a local maternity hospital, spoke of the rising number of babies delivered to Venezuelan women at the facility. "We - in 2016 - had 12 births, now, every month, we have more than 60 women giving birth," she said. Speaking at the hospital, patient Belice Mairin lamented the state of healthcare provision in her home country. "In Venezuela right now it's impossible to get any medicine. That's what my family tells me, it's impossible to get anything," she said.Colonel Lupchinski, a media advisor for the Brazilian task force for the humanitarian emergency in Roraima, described how the dire situation has taken its toll on the city, with the infrastructure barely able to cope with the 500 daily arrivals in need of help."The deployment of humanitarian forces aims to improve this situation, because in the shelters we are providing, in cooperation with the UNHCR, security, food, health services and infrastructure, so that people have dignified living conditions," he explained.Venezuelans have flooded southwards to Brazil amid a weak job market back home. The country's economy has been unable to sustain itself in recent years due to plummeting global oil prices. Over 90 percent of Venezuelan export revenue relies on oil production, and a barrel cost upwards of $110 (€89) in the four years leading up to 2014; however, the price today hovers at around $70 (€57) and had more than halved from its highest point in the intervening period. There has also been a dramatic fall in Venezuelan oil production, with output dropping 13 percent last year alone. With the oil-rich nation also leaning heavily on international credit and being hit hard by sanctions implemented by the US and EU, socio-economic crisis has followed. Government mismanagement and a lack of internal investment have also been blamed for deepening the crisis. Hyperinflation resulting from the downturn means everyday prices have risen dramatically, leading to a shortage of jobs and amenities while, conversely, crime and poverty rates have rocketed. In the first quarter of this year alone, inflation rose 454 percent in Venezuela.The humanitarian fallout has now reached northern Brazil, where the UN and local government are struggling to raise enough money to meet the costs of tackling the crisis. It has also turned the lives of many Venezuelans upside down. For them, helping their relatives back home is a priority. Pedro Salgado summed up the predicament of many of his compatriots. "We love our families. We are looking for a future for them, and this is the only way," he said.

Brazil: Venezuelans in search of food, jobs and hope push Brazilian region to breaking point10:06
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The recent influx of migrants from neighbouring Venezuela has placed a huge burden on the northern Brazilian city of Boa Vista and the surrounding region, where authorities have declared a state of emergency. The UN's UNHCR refugee agency says almost 800 Venezuelans are arriving in Brazil each day, many of them seeking asylum amid deteriorating economic conditions in their home country. Since the beginning of last year, over 52,000 Venezuelans have landed in Brazil according to the UN. Some 25,000 of those are asylum seekers and 10,000 hold temporary resident visas. The majority of new arrivals end up in the northern state of Roraima, where many make their homes in temporary accommodation facilities and makeshift camps located in the regional capital of Boa Vista. Other Venezuelan migrants are forced to live rough while they search for jobs. At one camp managed by the UNHCR, Venezuelan migrants are provided with a safe haven while they wait to move on to other parts of Brazil in search of employment. One man staying at the facility, Hector Palomo, said he had left his 12 children in Venezuela while he looks for a job in Brazil. "I would like to bring all of them. Not to a shelter, but to a home, where they have stability and they feel comfortable, where I have a job," he said from the camp in Boa Vista. The turmoil of leaving home for pastures new is also compounded by the lack of infrastructure and organisation when migrants arrive at their destination. Waiting times are a common theme voiced by the migrants. Pedro Salgado spoke of a 6 km (3.8 mi) long queue just to cross the Brazilian border and, after the arduous journey, he will likely be forced to join thousands of others in search of food and shelter. The lack of paid work back home in Venezuela is the breaking point for many. With the peso plummeting and the economy in dire straits, migrating to neighbouring countries such as Brazil and Colombia has become the only way out for many."We want to work. Look, we have to collect scraps left at the market to be able to eat. We don't have any money. So we have to search through the bins for food," explained Luiz Suarez, another migrant. He said the situation in his homeland is made all the worse by the fact that it is rich in mismanaged natural resources.Boa Vista has also seen a greater strain put on its healthcare facilities. Marcia Monteiro Marques, a technical director of gynecology at a local maternity hospital, spoke of the rising number of babies delivered to Venezuelan women at the facility. "We - in 2016 - had 12 births, now, every month, we have more than 60 women giving birth," she said. Speaking at the hospital, patient Belice Mairin lamented the state of healthcare provision in her home country. "In Venezuela right now it's impossible to get any medicine. That's what my family tells me, it's impossible to get anything," she said.Colonel Lupchinski, a media advisor for the Brazilian task force for the humanitarian emergency in Roraima, described how the dire situation has taken its toll on the city, with the infrastructure barely able to cope with the 500 daily arrivals in need of help."The deployment of humanitarian forces aims to improve this situation, because in the shelters we are providing, in cooperation with the UNHCR, security, food, health services and infrastructure, so that people have dignified living conditions," he explained.Venezuelans have flooded southwards to Brazil amid a weak job market back home. The country's economy has been unable to sustain itself in recent years due to plummeting global oil prices. Over 90 percent of Venezuelan export revenue relies on oil production, and a barrel cost upwards of $110 (€89) in the four years leading up to 2014; however, the price today hovers at around $70 (€57) and had more than halved from its highest point in the intervening period. There has also been a dramatic fall in Venezuelan oil production, with output dropping 13 percent last year alone. With the oil-rich nation also leaning heavily on international credit and being hit hard by sanctions implemented by the US and EU, socio-economic crisis has followed. Government mismanagement and a lack of internal investment have also been blamed for deepening the crisis. Hyperinflation resulting from the downturn means everyday prices have risen dramatically, leading to a shortage of jobs and amenities while, conversely, crime and poverty rates have rocketed. In the first quarter of this year alone, inflation rose 454 percent in Venezuela.The humanitarian fallout has now reached northern Brazil, where the UN and local government are struggling to raise enough money to meet the costs of tackling the crisis. It has also turned the lives of many Venezuelans upside down. For them, helping their relatives back home is a priority. Pedro Salgado summed up the predicament of many of his compatriots. "We love our families. We are looking for a future for them, and this is the only way," he said.

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