GENEVA — More than 200,000 Venezuelans fleeing economic hardship, political oppression and human rights abuses have arrived in Brazil since 2017. Most of them are living in the northern part of the country, putting a strain on the local residents hosting them.
The U.N. refugee agency and partners have begun relocating more than 5,000 Venezuelans from Brazil’s northern state of Roraima to 17 other states in the country.
U.N. Refugee spokesman Babar Baloch told VOA this voluntary relocation scheme is designed to ease the pressure on host communities.
“What I understand from talking to my colleagues in Brazil is that many of them are sleeping rough on the streets, not everyone is able to find a job, not able to sustain themselves once they arrive in Brazil. So, this support is very important for them and this targets different vulnerable groups, as well from families, individuals,” he said.
Baloch said the whole idea behind the project is to move the Venezuelan refugees and migrants to different parts of Brazil where there are better opportunities to find homes and jobs.
A first group of 225 Venezuelans boarded a Brazilian Air Force aircraft on Wednesday. They took off from Boa Vista, the capital of the State of Roraima, for 13 different cities in Brazil. The UNHCR says more flights are scheduled over the coming weeks.