The Ministry of Justice report released last April 11th shows that the number of applications for refugee status reached a record high in 2017. According to the report, called Refuge in Numbers, a total 33,866 applications were filed last year, mostly from Venezuelans (17,865).
Under national law, refugees are persons who flee their country because of political, racial or religious persecution or as a result of serious human rights violations. There are currently more than 86,000 applications pending refugee recognition in the country.
In the last 20 years, Brazil has recognized 10,145 thousand refugees. A total 5,144 of those remain in the country, 35% of them Syrians fleeing the civil war the country has faced since 2011. According to the report, more than half (52%) of those who stayed in Brazil live in São Paulo, 17% in Rio de Janeiro and 8% in Paraná.
Venezuela and Haiti
There is still no consensus on the approach taken to applications by Venezuelans and Haitians, the Ministry of Justice Torquato Jardim explains, since those citizens are usually treated as immigrants rather than refugees.
“The residence permit for persons from countries bordering Brazil is a quicker and simpler alternative for Venezuelans who want to live in our country,” said Luiz Pontel de Souza, National Secretary of Justice and president of the National Committee for Refugees (Conare).