Last Group of 108 Palestinian Refugees Is Received in Brazil

Jordan Refugees A last group of Palestinian refugees arrived in Brazil this Tuesday, November 6. They landed at the Guarulhos International Airport, in the southeastern Brazilian city of São Paulo, and headed to the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

The eight-person group is, in fact, a family whose matriarch is Rashida Qassem Mahmoud, 77 years old. She should have come with the previous group, which arrived on October 19th. But Rashida preferred to wait for the rest of the family: her daughter, her four grandsons, her daughters-in-law, and her great-granddaughter Nivin, who is only two years old.

Rashida was separated from her family. For the last four years, she lived in the Al Rwashid refugee camp, in Jordan, while her family was in another camp in Syria.

Now, Rashida's family will go through the same procedure as the other Palestinian refugees that were received in Brazil. In total, there are 108 people spread throughout five cities in the southernmost Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul and in Mogi das Cruzes, a city in the interior of the state of São Paulo.

The decision of receiving the group was made on May this year by the National Committee for Refugees (Conare), presided by the Brazilian Ministry of Justice.

The refugee reception and resettling work is being carried out by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in partnership with non-government organizations Cáritas Brasileira, and Associação Antônio Vieira (ASAV).

For a period of two years, they are going to receive support for rental, for purchasing furniture, and material aid, in addition to Portuguese classes, which are mandatory. The children should start attending schools in 2008.

The family of Rashida was received by the coordinator at the resettling project in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Karin Kaid Wapechowski, a member of Associação Antônio Vieira.

She came accompanied by Hayat Saleh, a Palestinian who has already been living in Brazil for 27 years. Rashida and her group are going to live in the city of Venâncio Aires, 130 kilometers away from the capital Porto Alegre.

First off, though, they will stay in the capital for a week to undergo a medical and dental check-up, and to take cultural orientation lessons, so as to know more about the state and the city that they are going to live in.

According to Karin, the Palestinians who are already in Rio Grande do Sul, and who came in three trips in September and October, are undergoing an adaptation phase, but many are already integrating themselves into the local communities, especially with the Palestinians and descendents, who have a strong presence in the state.



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