By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s government announced on Thursday it is discussing the Venezuelan immigration situation in the Northern region of the country and will render more assistance to the state and local governments of Boa Vista, Roraima due to the large volume of Venezuelan immigrants who have settled in the city in the past few months.
According to Social Development Minister, Osmar Terra, more than ten percent of Boa Vista’s population today is made up of refugees. “We are working on a government task force to discuss alternatives. The crisis in Venezuela is very serious,” Terra told journalists before the trip.
Along with Minister Terra, Justice Minister Torquato Jardim, Defense Minister participated in Raul Jungmann, and the head of the Office of Institutional Security, General Sergio Etchegoyen also went to Boa Vista to speak to local officials.
Defense Minister told reporters that the government is studying measures to increase federal participation at the Brazil-Venezuelan border, and adopt measures that allow the internationalization of immigrants authorized to stay in the country.
Calling it a ‘humanitarian crisis’, Jungmann said he was shocked to see the living conditions of the more than 300 Venezuelans he met living in a city park in the middle of Boa Vista. According to officials even Venezuela’s indigenous population is seeking refuge across the border.
“These people are not here because they want to be. They were driven here […] This is a situation that all of Brazil has to embrace, not something that only Roraima and Boa Vista will have to deal with,” Jungmann told journalists after speaking to the Venezuelans.
City officials estimate that currently there are at least 40,000 Venezuelans who crossed over the border from Venezuela and settled in makeshift campsites and parks in Boa Vista. Since 2016 with the deepening of the Venezuelan economic and political crises, hundreds of thousands have fled the country seeking jobs and security, a great majority crossing over the border of Brazil in the Amazon region.