Operation: Opération: Brazil



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
23,660 people of concern to UNHCR registered and assisted
14,404 refugees and migrants hosted in emergency shelters
100,000 people counselled on health, access to rights, and protection from violence and exploitation
20,678 people benefitted from legal counselling and services for persons with specific needs
9,696 people supported with vocational training, support to find a job and language courses, among others
49,978 people received core relief items, including 621,488 hygiene items
8,045 refugees and migrants received multipurpose cash assistance for meeting basic needs
2021 planning figures
30,000 individuals will receive support for voluntary relocation across Brazil
30,000 people will receive humanitarian assistance including shelter, multipurpose grants and core relief items

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 420,205
2019 363,683
2018 203,790


[["Refugees",59147],["Asylum-seekers",203065],["Stateless",14],["Venezuelans displaced abroad",157979]]
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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[6.23346253,5.860249463000001,15.972889039999998,26.54061601,46.61305644,52.48059644],"expenditure":[2.7706671000000003,4.47202941,12.318508549999999,21.49581311,24.09695096,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[5.99089301,5.670374963,15.79689752,26.54061601,46.61305644,52.48059644],"p2":[0.24256951999999998,0.1898745,0.17599151999999998,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[2.65545223,4.33812641,12.15112536,21.49581311,24.09695096,null],"p2":[0.11521487,0.133903,0.16738319000000002,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

The favorable protection environment in Brazil allowed Venezuelans to be recognized as refugees through a prima facie procedure on the grounds of the Cartagena Declaration. However, the border with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has been closed since March 2020 due to COVID-19, preventing access to territory and documentation.
Individuals who entered irregularly were ineligible to apply for asylum or regularize their status and therefore faced higher risks of deportation, exploitation and abuse. They also lacked access to essential services, and opportunities for self-reliance. While they were initially denied access to the humanitarian assistance provided by the government, a surge in arrivals from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Roraima State in the last quarter of 2020 prompted a shift in approach, allowing exceptional access to shelters for those highly vulnerable.
Refugees and migrants with legal status in Brazil had full access to rights and services, including social assistance programmes as well as vaccination campaigns, according to their vulnerability group. Of those, 50,000 Venezuelans benefited from the national emergency grant. Despite these efforts, the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic remained significant; gender-based violence and mental health problems spiked, while widespread food insecurity led to rising levels of malnutrition and growing destitution, especially among the most vulnerable. Unaccompanied minors, single-headed households, women and girls at risk of gender-based violence and trafficking, indigenous populations, the elderly, those with chronic diseases, and the LGBTQI+ community have been highly affected.
Operation Welcome remained as the federal response for Venezuelans in Roraima and Amazonas States. Although health controls allowed the voluntary internal relocation across the country to continue, the number relocated fell to one-third compared to 2019.

Population trends

  • Over 59,000 people were recognized refugees as of November 2020.
  • Of 420,000 people of concern to UNHCR in Brazil by the end of 2020, some 203,000 were asylum seekers and 59,000 were refugees.
  • Brazil hosted around 300,000 refugees and migrants from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela were in Brazil by end of 2020, including 102,504 asylum-seekers, 46,599 recognized refugees and 148,742 holders of temporary residence permits. Among Venezuelans registered with UNHCR, 53% are men and boys and 47% women and girls.
  • Over 6,000 people from the Venezuelan Warao, Pemon, E’ñepa, and Kariña indigenous populations of sought assistance/received assistance in Brazil.
  • People of concern to UNHCR of another 95 nationalities reached urban areas such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The main nationalities by country of origin as of October 2020 include Syrians (2.6%), Congolese (0.8%), Cubans (0.4%) and Palestinians (0.3%).

Key achievements 

  1. More than 20,000 refugees and migrants sheltered in Roraima and Amazonas.
  2. UNHCR contributed to setting up and operationalizing a field hospital and isolation area with 250 refugee housing units, 2,000 standard beds and 180 ICU beds, assisting 5,284 host community members and 658 Venezuelans.
  3. Over 7,000 people of concern to UNHCR at heightened need, including 3,500 indigenous people, were supported with information and assistance on gender-based violence, child protection, access to documentation and essential services, and livelihoods.
  4. To overcome the economic effects of the pandemic, 7,400 people were assisted for relocation in the transit centre of Manaus.

Unmet needs

  • Given limited funding UNHCR was not able to reach approximately 5,000 people at heightened need that had lost their income and were at risk of eviction.
  • UNHCR identified 4,000 refugees and migrants who could not benefit from start-up grants due to budget constraints.
  • In a context of increasing irregular arrivals as borders were closed, UNHCR had limited resources to advocate for access to territory and asylum. Support to the National Refugee Commission was not enough for it to establish simplified and accelerated procedures to reduce the backlog of asylum claims.

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

With flexible funds, UNHCR promoted livelihoods and integration through awareness-raising activities that reached 10,000 staff members from private sector companies. Also, 11,000 refugees and migrants learned in different languages about their labour rights and received support to find a job. Of those, 4,052 people benefited from labour insertion support, 1,400 from vocational training, and 1,000 from Portuguese language courses.

As levels of gender-based violence peaked during lockdowns, UNHCR strengthened the response with direct assistance to 350 survivors and training for 736 government officials, humanitarian staff and members of communities.  The services provided to survivors of gender-based violence included:
  • identification of cases by partners;
  • provision of legal counselling;
  • referral to health services, including wellbeing and psychosocial services;
  • referral to safe shelter or safe spaces for children, women and LGBTIQ+ individuals;
  • provision of unrestricted cash assistance; and
  • provision of food baskets and hygiene kits.

Working environment

People are expected to continue to leave Venezuela in 2020, demonstrating heightened needs and vulnerability in the country. UNHCR expects access to Brazilian territory without restriction for people in need of international protection to continue, notably through the border area in Pacaraima, Roraima state. Due to the Amazon rainforest geographically isolating Roraima state from the rest of Brazil, spontaneous onward movements into Brazil are difficult and costly. As a result, many refugees will continue to establish themselves in the northern cities of Brazil. They will be in continued need of assistance, primarily in urban settings, where shelter and other forms of assistance available to those with most critical needs are limited. Refugees and asylum-seekers, once registered, can access basic rights and services, including health, education and employment as well as protection from refoulement – this is expected to continue in 2020.
In parallel, and in line with 2019 policies and practices, the Government of Brazil will remain committed to supporting arrivals from Venezuela. As such, UNHCR will continue to support and complement the Government’s response, particularly in the states of Amazonas and Roraima, focusing on provision of documentation, shelter, targeted protection services for women, children, adolescents and people with disabilities, as well as support for indigenous Venezuelans.
In addition, Brazil’s innovative scheme of voluntary internal relocation from the northern states to other Brazilian states and host communities is also expected to continue. This will need to be complemented by renewed development efforts in regard to infrastructure and sanitation.
The national coordination platform, mirroring the regional structures that have been set up, will continue to support the already strong local coordination mechanisms, enabling a result-oriented dialogue between federal, state and municipal levels to ensure a comprehensive and complementary response from all actors.

Key priorities

UNHCR’s key objectives in the delivery of the emergency response will be to ensure access to territory and timely registration, while guaranteeing access to basic and essential services, such as health, shelter, education and food. During this process, UNHCR will pay attention to the most vulnerable arrivals in meeting their basic needs, through the provision of shelter, core relief items and cash-based assistance. Tailored support will be provided to groups with specific needs, such as survivors of SGBV, LGBTI people, single parents, unaccompanied children, people with disabilities and indigenous people.
UNHCR, in close cooperation with the Government, will strive to find durable solutions for refugees and asylum-seekers, notably through local integration and peaceful coexistence initiatives in northern states and relocation states. UNHCR will also support voluntary internal relocation with better local integration prospects and more structured protection networks, while continuing to support the state-funded resettlement programmes. 
To promote a favourable protection environment, UNHCR will accompany the roll out of SISCONARE, the new web-based registration and case management system, through regular consultations with the relevant authorities, to ensure all asylum-seekers have access to the asylum system. With regards to asylum procedures, UNHCR will review and reach agreement on a backlog reduction plan, advocate for simplified case processing modalities and continuing to provide technical support for implementation of Brazilian Refugee Law to ensure a high quality of refugee status determination.
Latest contributions
  • 25-NOV-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 24-NOV-2021
  • Germany
  • 23-NOV-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 22-NOV-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • Japan

    private donors

  • 18-NOV-2021

    private donors

  • Argentina
  • Romania
  • Qatar
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • 17-NOV-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 15-NOV-2021
    United Arab Emirates

    private donors

  • 12-NOV-2021
  • 11-NOV-2021
  • Angola
  • 09-NOV-2021
  • 08-NOV-2021
  • Hungary