Brazil's National Committee for Refugees (Conare), of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, has granted refugee status to 21,432 Venezuelans who settled in Brazil after escaping the economic crisis and political instability assailing their country.
Up to October this year, the committee had considered 120,469 refugee applications submitted by Venezuelans. The recognition of such a large amount of refugees, an official note reads, is "a historic milestone in the field of migratory regulation in Brazil," as 21,432 requests were scrutinized at once. The government now expects Conare to repeat the feat and process another "significant number" of applications.
An application undergoes a number of stages before it reaches the committee. According to official information, no deadline is given for a result to be disclosed, as it depends on applicants' nationality, the contact details provided, the complexity of each case, and the data available in their country of origin. The ministry also explains that requests are analyzed every three years. Of the 120,469 applications under processing in October, at least 47 were lodged in 2013.
Examining a large number of applications at once was possible, the ministry reported, thanks to digital tools that organize large number of data and turn them into legible information, allowing thousands of requests by Venezuelans to be cross-checked.
In June this year, the committee decided that Venezuelans face a situation of "generalized and severe violation of human rights." The move had practical effects, and, in October, led to the publication of a resolution adopting special procedures in the assessment of well founded applications, surmounting obstacles and facilitating the evaluation of the circumstances faced by Venezuelan refugees.
In general terms, a 1997 law stipulates that refugee status must be granted to any individual asking for protection to leave their country of origin or the country where they currently are, due to "well-founded fears of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, social group, or political opinion." Refuge is also to be conceded to any person who does not have a nationality and is not located in their country of residence and is unable or unwilling to return as a result of the aforementioned circumstances; or any individual forced to leave their country of nationality to seek refuge in another nation.
Under Brazilian law, after a foreigner applies for refuge, he or she has the right to have the main identification papers issued and to use any universal public service. Their residence permit, however, is temporary. A refugee's residence permit, however, is indefinite; and they may apply for Brazilian citizenship four years after their status was granted.
A refugee may also request to have the effects of their status extended to family members and apply for a family reunion visa for relatives outside of Brazil.
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