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As Venezuelan refugees flee to Brazil, country on alert

Sheetal Sukhija - Friday 9th February, 2018

BRAZILIA, Brazil - Amid a refugee crisis that is heating up on the Brazilian border with Venezuela - the local government has decided to deal with the situation by deploying more troops.

The Brazilian government said late on Thursday that it was sending more troops on its border with Venezuela.

Simultaneously, Brazil’s Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said in a statement that government would start relocating tens of thousands of Venezuelan refugees who have fled into northern Brazil.

Jungmann told reporters that a census will be conducted to establish how many Venezuelans have crossed the open border to seek food, work and shelter in Boa Vista.

The announcement by the government comes in light of estimates drawn out by the Boa Vista mayor, who said that 40,000 refugees have strained the city’s health and other public services.

Speaking to local reporters after concluding a meeting with local officials, Jungmann said, “This is a humanitarian drama. The Venezuelan are being expelled from their country by hunger and the lack of jobs and medicine. We are here to bring federal government help and strengthen the border.”

He added in the official government statement that the Brazilian army will double its contingent of soldiers at the border to 200 soldiers.

Meanwhile, reports pointed out that Brazil’s action comes after Colombia tightened border controls with Venezuela and said it will give aid to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans fleeing economic crisis.

However, the Brazilian government has announced that it would not close the border.

It added that it would relocate refugees to other cities in the interior of Brazil where they can find work and settle down.

According to local officials, in Boa Vista some 300 Venezuelans have been sleeping in the open and with the support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees three shelters have been operational and were quickly filled up last year.

However, Venezuelans continue to arrive into the country and have nowhere to sleep or find work in a saturated labor market.

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