A survey by FGV’s Department of Public Policy Analysis (DAPP) profiles the group of Venezuelan immigrants that started emigrating after the defeat of President Nicolás Maduro in parliamentary elections, based on official data that often goes against common sense. The city of Pacaraima, approximately 200 km away from Boa Vista, the state capital of Roraima, has received some of this inflow, which triggered an outbreak of social conflicts.
The data collected by DAPP in July 2017 from the Federal Police Department indicates that the number of active registrations of Venezuelans in Brazil was approximately 5,000. In a way, this information already reflected the increase in refugee applications in Brazil. According to data from the National Committee for Refugees (Conare), there were 209 applications in 2014, 829 in 2015, and 3,375 in 2016, which shows that the number of refugee applications was already on the rise before the recent Brazilian migration act passed.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there were more than 22,000 refugee applications from Venezuelans in Brazil between 2014 and 2017, which indicates a spike in applications in 2017, when social conditions in Venezuela worsened and inflation dropped exponentially, in addition to the new Brazilian migration act.
One of the most concerning upshots of this inflow in Roraima is the emergence of conflicts due to the competition for jobs, vacancies in the public school system and hospitals — there were two attacks against Venezuelans in February alone. However, 48.4% of Venezuelans in Boa Vista had not used any public service until October 2017, according to a survey by the International Migration Observatory (OBMigra). This would mean that the concern regarding an overload in the region is not so much attributed to worsened services due to a greater number of immigrants, but rather more closely related to a scenario in which the city – without the support of the state and federal governments to attract development projects for the region – cannot tend to the basic needs of a population that is largely unemployed or working in the informal market, with a low level of education.
Another key insight revealed by the study is that a significant part of the non-indigenous Venezuelan population crossing the border has a good level of schooling (78% have finished high school and 32% have undergraduate or graduate degrees), which is above the local population’s average. According to data from OBMigra, 60% of these individuals were employed in a remunerated activity in 2017 and sent money to their spouses and children in Venezuela.
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