By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Trying to prepare for an expected growth in the number of foreigners seeking asylum Brazil’s Justice Department announced on Tuesday the government would invest R$15 million in policies to help refugees and immigrants coming into the country as well as launching an on-line campaign to combat possible xenophobia in the country.
“We are faced with the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II,” said Beto Vasconcelos, President of the National Committee for Refugees (CONARE), during a press conference to announce the plan. “The international community has been seeking measures to meet the demands of this human drama we are currently facing. Brazil has cooperated.”
According to Vasconcelos investments will be made to provide legal, social and psychological assistance to newcomers, as well as housing, Portuguese classes and aid the refugees and immigrants in finding jobs.
The online campaign “Brasil. A Imigração esta no nosso sangue” (Brazil. Immigration is in our blood) created a new website which allows Brazilians to add their photos and their stories to the campaign. The stories will be then replicated on social media with the hashtags #EuTambemSouImigrante (I too am an immigrant) and #XenofobiaNãoCombina (XenophobiaNotAccepted) .
According to Vasconcelos the objective of the campaign is to bring awareness to the fact that in reality ‘we all are immigrants’. The CONARE official says that xenophobic activities are sporadic in Brazil, but and mostly due to lack of information about what these people have suffered and why they have come to the country.
CONARE’s data registers 8,530 official refugees in the country, including those who entered the country this year. The Syrians are by far the largest number of refugees with over 2,000 seeking a home in Brazil.
The data also shows that these refugees and immigrants usually settle in the South and Southeastern regions of Brazil where they see as having better chances of finding work.