Bolsonaro defends Operation Welcome, but ignores chaos of Venezuelans in Pacaraima – 10/26/2021 – World

Although President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) said this Tuesday (26), that Brazil is “a humanitarian country”, that it does “its job of welcoming and integrating” Venezuelans, the situation of refugees in the state of Roraima is precarious.

In Boa Vista, where the president visited one of the shelters of Operation Welcome, led by the army, there are 1,803 Venezuelan migrants homeless, 548 of whom are under 18, according to the most recent report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), concerning September. Of this total, 825 people are sleeping at the reception station at the bus station and 122 are sleeping on the street.

Bolsonaro had promised to visit Pacaraima, a city on the Venezuelan border, to publicize the work of Operation Welcome. But he gave up at the last minute and restricted his itinerary to Boa Vista.

Perhaps because Pacaraima is not the best example of assistance and welcoming to Venezuelans. According to the IOM, in the municipality of 18 thousand inhabitants there are 4,225 Venezuelans homeless, 2,330 of them sleeping under marquees and on sidewalks. It would be as if the city of São Paulo had 1.6 million refugees living on the streets.

Of the migrants in Pacaraima, 1,539 are children and adolescents under 18 years of age.

There are more than 1,582 Venezuelans in the two shelters of the city, according to data from the Civil House. In Boa Vista, there are 6,753 refugees spread across 13 structures.

“Brazil is a country that has deep respect for the suffering of others,” Bolsonaro told Venezuelans on Tuesday at a shelter in Boa Vista. “We will do everything possible to integrate them [venezuelanos] the society.”

The Department of Communication of the Presidency broadcast campaigns on social networks with the motto “Operation Welcome, socialism segregates, Brazil welcomes”.

The more than 2,300 people on the streets of Pacaraima have at their disposal only 16 toilets and 8 showers, built by Cáritas with funding from USAID, the American agency for international development. The municipal government, in turn, does not provide hygiene infrastructure for Venezuelans who are outside shelters.

The numbers have been increasing since the border was reopened. It had been closed to the entry of Venezuelan migrants and asylum seekers in March 2020, with ordinances alleging health reasons due to the pandemic. Thus, Venezuelans were prohibited from crossing the border overland, and those who entered irregularly were subject to summary deportation, a measure that violates the international refugee treaties.

The decision was only revoked on June 23 this year.

Since the beginning of the political and economic crisis in Venezuela, around 5.9 million citizens have left the country of dictator Nicolás Maduro. According to the most recent data from R4V, a platform that brings together civil society organizations and the UN for immigration, there are 261,441 Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Brazil.

In August, questioned by sheet regarding preparations for Bolsonaro’s possible visit, the mayor of Pacaraima, Juliano Torquato (Republicans), said in a message that he intended to “show the reality experienced by the population, without masking it, so that the federal government can be more sensitive to what concerns border security, the fluidity of interiorization and other issues relevant to immigration”.

Bolsonaro chose not to go through Pacaraima.

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