By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The number of worldwide refugees seeking asylum in Brazil more than doubled in 2013 with Syrian immigrants making up the majority of the accepted applicants. According to data gathered by the National Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, the number of asylum claims in Brazil increased by 150 percent between January and December of last year.
A total of 651 of those immigrant applications were approved with 284 of them coming from the war-torn country of Syria. “Brazil has become an area of protection. Unlike Europe, Brazil is opening its doors to new migration,” Paulo Abrão,The National Secretary of Justice, told the media.
“As we are among the largest economies in the world, we exercise international leadership. Brazil has become a destination for those who suffer persecutions of all kinds, whether religious, racial, or due to their social groups.”
One hundred and six of the applicants also came from the Democratic Republic of Congo with eighty-eight Colombians rounding out the number of those accepted.
In explanation for the larger number of Syrian applicants, Abrão stated; “The Syrians already have a tradition and a relationship with Brazil. Their ancestors were migrants here and they [maintain] good relations with the Arab community.”
New immigrants to the country could also serve to help economically, as there is a deficit in the Brazilian work force of an estimated one million workers. However, complaints have arisen from some refugees about gaining employment and the possible prejudice of employees against new immigrants.
“The process for getting a job in Brazil is too long for those who need to survive,” one unidentified man from Democratic Republic of Congo told O Globo, adding “When I arrived, I had to wait four months to be able to work.”
Read more (in Portuguese).
* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.