Magazine article Forced Migration Review

The Future of the Brazilian Resettlement Programme

Magazine article Forced Migration Review

The Future of the Brazilian Resettlement Programme

Article excerpt

In 2004, Brazil marked the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Cartagena Declaration by proposing a regional resettlement programme. The Cartagena Declaration of 1984 had encouraged the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to make greater provision for the protection of refugees; the Mexico Declaration and Plan of Action of 2004 built on existing regional cooperation by initiating a Solidarity Resettlement Programme which would focus on resettlement of refugees from the region, particularly Colombia and the Northern Triangle of Central America1. The Declaration also widened the scope for all countries in Latin America to be involved and for more refugees to be included in the future.2

Brazil has resettled more refugees than any country in the region and its resettlement programme has not been suspended or delayed for political and/or financial reasons, as has happened in Argentina, Chile and Paraguay. From 2002 (when the resettlement programme was first implemented) to July 2017, Brazil resettled 715 refugees. Brazil's resettlement programme has been praised for demonstrating the country's commitment to the international protection of refugees - but why has the Brazilian programme been unable to resettle even larger numbers of refugees? One answer may lie in the way in which the task of financing was assigned to just one of the programme's stakeholders: UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

The greatest asset of the Brazilian Resettlement Programme is its tripartite structure. The framework comprises the National Committee for Refugees (CONARE), an executive inter-ministerial committee which provides the legal and bureaucratic support that refugees need when they arrive; UNHCR, which is able to identify people at risk in their first country of asylum and to advocate their resettlement in countries where protection and local integration are possible; and civil society institutions, which have a long history of supporting refugees in Brazil, which enables them to anticipate the needs of newcomers, prepare for their reception and monitor their integration. UNHCR is responsible for implementing the programme and also for financing it. This structure is common among resettlement programmes in the Latin American region. While on the one hand UNHCR has an ability to raise funds from the international community that most countries do not have, on the other hand a number of countries to which UNHCR allocates funds might, collectively, raise more funds than UNHCR could on its own, thus facilitating the resettlement of an overall greater number of refugees. …

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