Brazil Signs Agreement with UN to Take Care of Its 7,000 Refugees

Refugees arrive in Brazil The Brazilian Federal Prosecution Service (MPF, in the Portuguese acronym) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) signed this Friday, August 15, in Brazilian capital Brasília, a memorandum of understanding to develop actions of assistance to the refugee population in Brazil.

The agreement provides for the exchange of information on the inclusion of these foreigners into existing public policies and the teaching  of a course on the International Rights of Refugees to MPF officials.

This agreement also provides for the implementation of refugee policies and actions to explain the matter to the population. The partnership was signed by the UNHCR representative in Brazil, Andrés Ramirez, and by the Brazilian General Prosecutor, Rodrigo Janot.

According to Ramirez, the partnership with the MPF had already been discussed. “This agreement creates opportunities for training in this area.

We can supply material explaining the international law regarding refugees,” said Ramirez, as a case in point for what actions may take place under the agreement. According to the UNHCR representative, this partnership is “strategic” so that the country can better welcome these foreigners.

After receiving clearance to live in Brazil, refugees enjoy the same rights a Brazilian citizens do. They become entitled to an identification card and an employment registration/social welfare card.

In spite of that, they encounter difficulties adapting to the local culture, joining the labor market and enjoying health and education services, for instance.

The memorandum also provides for research to be conducted in partnership with various organizations about the presence of refugees in Brazil.

“These research actions should offer a better understanding of the presence of refugees in Brazil, which is a large, continent-sized country,” said Ramirez. In the next few days, UNHCR and MPF technicians will meet to decide on the first measures to be adopted by both organizations.

A total of 6,588 refugees live in Brazil. It is a relatively small number compared to the 55,000 Colombians driven to seek asylum in Ecuador due to conflict between government and armed guerrillas, or to the nearly 2.6 million Syrians who have fled the Arab country since the beginning of the conflict between rebels and the government, in 2011. The number of refugees in Brazil is increasing, though.

According to data from Brazil’s National Committee for Refugees (Conare), in 2010 Brazil received 566 asylum requests. In 2013, 5,256 requests were made. At the first plenary meeting to grant refugee status held by the Conare this year, 680 requests were accepted, most of them placed by Syrians.

Elections

Sudan is hoping to benefit from Brazil’s experience in holding elections, following the signing this week of a memorandum of understanding by the Brazilian Superior Electoral Court (TSE, in the Portuguese acronym) and Sudan’s National Elections Commission (NEC). The agreement lays the groundwork for bilateral cooperation in the area.

“Sudan hopes to benefit from the Brazilian democratic experience and expertise in electronic election technology. We are counting on technical cooperation from friendly countries in this vital area,” the African country’s ambassador in Brasília, Abd Elghani Elnaim Awad Elkarim, informed.

The diplomat explained that elections are held every five years in his country, and the next general elections are set to take place in April 2015. Ballots will be cast for the Presidency, for chairs in the two chambers of Parliament, for 18 state governments, and for slots in the states’ legislative assemblies.

“We have invited the Brazilian Supreme Court to oversee our elections,” said Elkarim. The agreement signed this week provides for mutual monitoring of elections. “The National Elections Commission is determined to hold fair, transparent, impartial elections,” he added.

A delegation headed by the commission’s chairman Mukhtar Al-Assam traveled to Brasília and paid visits to Electoral Court offices. The group convened with TSE president Dias Toffoli, among other meetings.

The ambassador explained that the first election ever in Sudan happened in 1953, and the first woman was elected for Parliament in 1965. He remarked that at this time, there is a minimum quota of 25% for women in the Legislative branch.

Anba

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