AMERICA/BRAZIL - "Cruel and inhuman reality": the situation of Venezuelan immigrants requires urgent answers

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Cáritas Brasil

Boa Vista (Agenzia Fides) - Venezuelan immigrants live "a cruel and inhumane reality that requires rapid, effective and articulate responses from Churches, the State and society in general". This is the opinion contained in the letter sent to Agenzia Fides by the Episcopal Commission to deal with human trafficking (CEPEETH) of the Bishops' Conference of Brazil (CNBB), after completing the "Mision Frontera Venezuela", carried out from 1 to 4 March, in the cities of Boa Vista and Pacaraima, in the state of Roraima (see Fides 01/03/2018).
The Letter, signed by the President of the Commission, Mgr. Enemesio Lazzaris, Bishop of Balsas, denounces worrisome situations, such as "long queues of immigrants and refugees in search of documentation, transport, food and work, undernourished sick children, without schooling; unemployed without future prospects, exposed to all kinds of vulnerabilities, women victims of violence, sexual and labor exploitation, unscrupulous people who exploit the misery of migrant brothers and sisters and refugees for work and alter food prices".
The Commission also underlines "the lack of elementary public policies such as food, health, hygiene, safety, education" and expresses its profound indignation by noting "the absence and lack of commitment of the powers established to give answers", while stressing with pain "the things that are lacking to live the project of God that makes us all brothers and sisters".
Even in this serious situation - writes Archbishop Lazzaris in his letter - the Commission was able to see "many fraternal and supportive initiatives of individuals, families, groups, churches and institutions of civil society", as well as the support of international institutions and the local Church that are dedicating themselves to the service of Venezuelan immigrants and refugees as a priority.
The ecclesial communities, in their many expressions (religious institutes, parishes, lay associations ...) promote welcoming activities and support for Venezuelans, but decisive action by the government is needed in order to take the appropriate measures to manage a migratory phenomenon of this dimension (see Fides 26/1/2018, 10/2/2018, 14/02/2018).
CEPEETH has launched an appeal aimed at reception, solidarity and political intervention in a structured way at a local, state and national level, in order to raise awareness and involvement through voluntary service; the effective and generous participation of the CNBB solidarity campaign; the demand for public policies and the guarantee of rights; in addition to the implementation of permanent educational campaigns on immigration and human trafficking. "We firmly commit ourselves to this mission to welcome, protect, promote and integrate our immigrant brothers and sisters", concludes the letter.
The state of Roraima, with 350 thousand inhabitants, already welcomes 40 thousand Venezuelans, according to data of the City Council. It is estimated that the figure will increase to 55 thousand next July. (LMM/LG) (Agenzia Fides, 06/03/2018)