Brazil grants residence visas to thousands of Haitian immigrants
Brazilian Justice Minister Jose Cardozo says his government will not be indifferent to the economic situation facing Haitians.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Wednesday January 11, 2012 - Some 4,000 undocumented Haitian immigrants in Brazil have been granted residence visas, even at the Latin American country declared a crackdown on those entering the country illegally.
Haitians have been flocking to Brazil since February 2010, about a month following the deadly 7.0-magnitude quake.
The influx has been fuelled by demand for manual labour as the country prepares for the 2014 football World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
“The government will not be indifferent to the Haitians' vulnerable economic situation. But those who don't have a visa will not be allowed into Brazil,” said Justice Minister Jose Cardozo.
Brazil is also said to be considering granting temporary visas to as many as 100 visiting Haitians per month.
The government said it would step up the policing of the borders with Colombia, Peru and Bolivia that are used to smuggle Haitians into the country.
An unnamed UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) official told AFP news agency the influx of Haitian economic migrants into Brazil does not amount to a humanitarian crisis.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff plans to visit Port-au-Prince on February 1 to boost cooperation with Haiti, where the Latin American country leads the UN peacekeeping contingent.
Haitian President Michel Martelly has said that the country is facing a brain drain as many of those who are educated have sought employment elsewhere.
A senior UN official announced Monday that considerable humanitarian needs remain in the impoverished nation where the allocation of resources for earthquake recovery has shifted to reconstruction.
“It has been a major challenge since that we know that Haiti still needs a combination of humanitarian support… but slowly the emphasis and allocation of resources is shifting towards recovery and reconstruction,” said Rebeca Grynspan, the Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
She further stated: “The local Haitian community has played a crucial role in the reconstruction effort and UNDP continues to push for a very participatory approach in its planning to allow Haitians to take control of their country and choose their own future.”
The World Food Programme said yesterday that food prices in the country have risen by 50 per cent since 2010, which means that one out of every two Haitians are experiencing some kind of food shortages.