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UNHCR steps up support for Venezuelan refugees in Brazil amid pandemic

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The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) increases the support it provides to Venezuelan refugees in Brazil, the second country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, UNHCR said in a statement.

“UNHCR is stepping up efforts in Brazil to protect tens of thousands of refugees and migrants from Venezuela and their host communities, as the Latin American country fights against the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.

The note notes that Brazil, where more than 2.28 million infections and 84,000 deaths due to the coronavirus were confirmed, is home to “more than 345,000 refugees and asylum seekers, for whom the consequences of the pandemic are especially harsh.”

“The agency has increased its support to help mitigate the threat of the virus among refugees, migrants and the local communities that host them, providing infrastructure to strengthen the national health system, cash assistance, hygiene items and vital information, as informative sessions on prevention measures,” said UNHCR.

In particular, the United Nations agency “has been supporting an emergency hospital in Boa Vista, the capital of the northern border state of Roraima, which has the capacity to treat and isolate up to 1,782 confirmed patients suspected of COVID-19”.

“To date, 625 Venezuelans and many Brazilians, including Brazilian Indians, have received care in the hospital. More than 570 people have recovered, and many others in isolation have completed their quarantine period. However, twenty people, including refugees, migrants and Brazilians, have unfortunately lost their lives,” the statement said.

UNHCR stressed that this hospital also has Venezuelan health workers who “have contributed to life-saving efforts, using their experience and skills, joining their Brazilian counterparts in the response.”

The United Nations agency pointed out that in the state of Amazonas, which is “one of the most affected regions of the country” by the pandemic, UNHCR and its partners “supported local authorities with the relocation of more than 170 Venezuelan indigenous refugees”.

In addition, in the first half of the year, UNHCR distributed $ 325,000 to more than 3,100 refugees and asylum seekers. At the same time, it helped refugees and migrants to take part in federal government cash assistance programs.

“Due to limited resources and exponentially growing needs, UNHCR can only provide cash assistance to 24% of people assessed as needy,” agency said.

Given the start of winter, UNHCR distributed “mattresses, hammocks, cleaning and hygiene kits, mosquito nets, buckets, drums, sunlamps and other forms of assistance to some 15,000 refugees.”

“Among the beneficiaries are some 2,300 Venezuelan indigenous people, who represent almost half of the existing Venezuelan indigenous population in the country. More than a ton of winter clothing donated to UNHCR was distributed with the help of partners for displaced and affected people in the states of the center and south of the country,” highlights the text.

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