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UNICEF Brazil Flash Situation Report No. 1 (Increased migration influx in Pacaraima): 28 September 2021

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Situation Report
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Originally published

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Situation in Numbers

4,015 displaced people in bordering city of Pacaraima

38% are children and adolescents

261,441 Venezuelan refugees and migrants living in Brazil

14 out of 14 available shelters working above capacity
(Sources: IOM / R4V Platform / Ministry of Citizenship/UNHCR)

Situation Overview

Hygiene and living conditions of Venezuelan refugees and migrants reaching Brazil through the bordering city of Pacaraima are deteriorating quickly as the number of people living in the streets have multiplied 15-fold between June and August, after reopening of the borders closed since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today 2,065 people live in the streets of the 19,000 inhabitants city while they wait for documentation to continue their journey into the country, a situation unseen since the most acute moments of the Venezuelan migration outflow in 2017 and 2018.

The upsurge in the number of displaced people in the border – over 4,000 people if counting families in informal settlements (mainly indigenous communities) – results from a pent up demand intensified by the resumption of regularization processes paused since 2020, which caused a steep increase in the number of undocumented families. In average, refugees and migrants are waiting over a week for regularization with very poor access to proper health, water and sanitation services.

Situation is particularly acute for unaccompanied, separated and undocumented children (UASC). Waiting time for case resolution is over a month due to the increased number of cases that need support from the Childhood and Youth Court, the Office of State Public Defender and the Federal Police to guarantee protective measures. Demand, however, it will likely increase in the short and medium term. Until July, UNICEF had identified and supported 2,635 children and adolescents in this situation, while 1,577 were identified in all 2020.

All 14 shelters of the Government-led humanitarian response, Operação Acolhida, are working above capacity. Authorities activated phase III of the Contingency Plan – supported by the UN – leading to the opening of two additional large shelters (one planned for October), requiring setting up of basic services, and reinforced support from government and agencies.

At present, 5 of the shelters in Roraima are exclusively for indigenous populations (Warao, Pemon Taurepang and Eñepa communities), which represent 20% of the 8,734 sheltered population.

With hundreds of families still arriving daily, untreated wastewater and solid waste piling up in the streets of Pacaraima have become the norm, challenging federal and municipal services and increasing tensions with host community.