Closing borders not the answer to Venezuela crisis, warns aid agency

By agency reporter
August 9, 2018

This week Brazil has closed and reopened its border with Venezuela, as the crisis continues to worsen, driving tens of thousands of Venezuelans to seek safety in neighbouring countries.

Esther Gillingham, CAFOD’s Brazil Programme Officer said: “Since 2017, the impacts of the political and economic crisis in Venezuela have intensified resulting in increased violence, poverty and a persecution of social protest affecting hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans.

“Men, women and children and are being forced to walk the 200-kilometre road across the border into the city of Boa Vista in the Brazilian Amazon in search of food, medicines, and shelter for their families.”

In the North of Brazil, CAFOD’s local partner has seen the arrival of thousands of Venezuelan refugees. The UK aid agency is working in partnership with local organisation Caritas Brasileira, who are providing food, shelter, healthcare and sanitation.

Yesterday, the Brazilian government closed part of the border in the state of Roraima, North Brazil, which has already seen the arrival of over 40,000 refugees. It was reopened only after Supreme Court justice Rosa Weber ruled that closing the border was not justified.

Gillingham continued: “The opening and closing of the border is a very distressing situation for Venezuelans fleeing hunger and hardship, many of whom are already separated from family members.

“We urge the Brazilian government to uphold their commitments to human rights and to increase financial support to the local humanitarian efforts providing refuge to thousands of families who have no safe place to call home.”

CAFOD is supporting local partner organisations to provide essential humanitarian aid in Brazil and Colombia.

* CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development and is a member of Caritas Internationalis https://cafod.org.uk/

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