Brazil and UNHCR strengthen partnership to help refugees fleeing the Syria conflict
GENEVA, Oct 7 (UNHCR) - Brazil's Secretary of Justice Mr Beto Vasconcelos and Ambassador Regina Maria Cordeiro Dunlop Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office in Geneva have signed an agreement with UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk to enhance and formalize cooperation on Brazil's special visa programme for people affected by the Syria conflict.
The agreement was signed on October 5 during a ceremony organized on the margins of the 66th annual meeting of UNHCR's governance body ExCom.
Since 2013, Brazilian consulates in the Middle East have been issuing special visas under simplified procedures to people affected by the Syrian conflict to travel to Brazil, where they then present an asylum claim.
The majority of refugees in Brazil are now from Syria. "Despite the geographical distance, 8,000 people have already received these special visas and will be able to rebuild their lives in our country," said Mr Vasconcelos. "This 'open-door' policy was recently extended for two more years, and we continue to seek ways to improve its implementation and results. It is possible to do more. We need to do more".
Under the agreement, UNHCR and Brazil agreed to a set of activities to make the process of granting the special visas more efficient and secure. Better procedures will be in place to identify families and people with special needs who may qualify for a special visa for Brazil. Not only Syrian nationals, but also others affected by the Syrian conflict can benefit from this programme. The renewed cooperation between UNHCR and Brazil includes the exchange of information and expertise in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
"UNHCR's welcomes the Brazilian special visa programme as an important gesture of international solidarity in a global refugee crisis," Assistant High Commissioner for Protection Volker Türk said. "We encourage other countries in the region and the rest of the world to follow this example".
With the conflict in Syrian now in its fifth year, more than 4 million Syrians have fled the country to neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, while 7.6 million people have been displaced internally.