Crisis-Ridden Venezuelans Seek Asylum In Brazil

If you don’t know by now, Venezuela has been going through a serious crisis.

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Starting in 2012, during the reign of Hugo Chávez, socioeconomic upheaval has taken place in the South American country. This turmoil has lasted into the current presidency of Nicolás Maduro and has caused major problems with unemployment, public health and overall political corruption. Numerous citizen-led protests have popped up in response to these issues.

Given the murder rates and the issue of starvation on the rise, many venezolanos are fleeing their home country for safety.

Due to a shortage of medicine and food, among other problems, Venezuelans are seeking asylum in nearby in Boa Vista, Brazil, the BBC reports.

In 2017, an estimated 6,438 individuals have applied for asylum in the city, according to the media outlet — a huge jump from the 234 people that applied in 2015. The state of Roraima, where Boa Vista is located, has set up a shelter in a local gymnasium where Venezuelan families can sleep, cook, and get medical checkups.

Volunteers help to keep this shelter up and running while many refugees, many of which are indigenous Venezuelans, attempt to find work. They are doing everything from selling food to washing car windows on the streets. There has also been a rise in the prevalence of sex work in the area.

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Doriedson Ribeiro, a Roraima Civil Defence worker, spoke to BBC about the concern associated with the rise of refugees. “We can’t see an end to this crisis in Venezuela in the near future,” he said. “We’re afraid more and more people will keep coming and it will get to the point where we won’t be able to help anymore.”