Brazil has received 15,000 asylum claims this year, but its national asylum system hasn’t been updated since 1997 when it got 500 applications a year
Brazil is failing to respond to one of the most serious forced migration crises in decades. The economic and political maelstrom in neighboring Venezuela has forced thousands of people to flee into Brazil in search of food, medicine and basic survival. According to Brazil’s border police, more than 77,000 Venezuelans poured into Brazil between 2015 and 2016. While most are eager to return to Venezuela, many are seeking asylum. There are already 8,231 Venezuelans who have officially claimed asylum in 2017 and another 5,000 others waiting for an appointment. Roughly 150 new claims are being received every single day.
The situation for the new arrivals is dire. They are living on the streets and in improvised shelters. Many people have contracted diseases associated with poor living conditions and rely on overstretched and understaffed hospitals. Human Rights Watch reports that almost 2,000 migrants were diagnosed with malaria in 2016. The number of Venezuelan women seeking maternity care has also sky-rocketed, as have reports of kidnapping, rape and trafficking for sexual exploitation.