The Humanitarian Fraternity (FFHI) becomes the manager of the three shelters for Venezuelan indigenous immigrants existing in Roraima, and deepens its focus on the specifics of this population
At the end of 2020, Operation Welcome, which takes care of the Venezuelan immigrants in northern Brazil, went through a restructuring. Through the joint efforts of the Brazilian government, the UN agencies and the various humanitarian players that are part of the operation, some shelters were able to be closed, which is the long-term goal in a humanitarian response.
In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic being an aggravating factor in the context of the crisis, generating a health emergency within the humanitarian emergency, the work of interiorizing the immigrants to other States of Brazil, the availability of social welfare, and the closing of the frontier with Venezuela because of the pandemic caused the demand for housing in Roraima to diminish.
This restructuring also allowed a space to be renewed. The Jardim Floresta shelter was emptied, went through some adaptations and was assigned to serve indigenous immigrants. More than 100 recipients were transferred there from the Janokoida shelter, in Pacaraima, which was operating beyond its capacity. It was also the destination of approximately 200 people who lived as squatters in Boa Vista, without the benefits available in the shelters of Acolhida (Welcome) Operation with regards to security, food, and health.
Considering the expertise acquired by the Fraternity – International Humanitarian Federation (FFHI) in humanitarian work with indigenous refugees, that since 2016 has been working in Roraima with this population, the institution was invited to also manage this shelter, in partnership with the UNHCR. Since two other shelters for the non-indigenous, which were being managed by it in 2020, were closed, the Humanitarian Fraternity (FFHI) now is totally focused on the indigenous population, concentrating on the management of the three shelters existing in Roraima for the different tribes.
“Due to the complexity of the situation, as it is a very specific population because of cultural issues, we decided to focus [our work] only on the indigenous shelters, precisely with a view to improving the management of the shelters, with a more shared management, including a more participatory model of the community in decision-making; this is already happening now, but the proposal is that there be an improvement in the management of the shelter with this focus,” reports Rafael Corbetta, regional director of the Humanitarian Fraternity (FFHI) in Roraima.
Another aspect that will be able to be more in-depth in this new phase of the work of the Humanitarian Fraternity (FFHI) is the question of lasting solutions for this population, continues Rafael, “because there still isn’t a structured alternative in the [humanitarian] response as a whole for the indigenous population, besides the sheltering – if for the non-indigenous there is an option for interiorization, for the natives there remains a void, and an alternative is being built for this population, so that they can get out of the shelters and rebuild their lives.”
In this sense, in the last two months of 2020, the Humanitarian Fraternity (FFHI) promoted the first professionalizing courses for the recipients of the indigenous shelters, with the aim of facilitating their insertion into the Brazilian job market. There were courses of Basic Computer, in partnership with the UNIVIRR, of Basic Bakery Techniques and Men’s Hair Cutting, with certification with Senac, and a course for Responders, in partnership with Segcin, besides the School for Indigenous Leadership, in partnership with the Insikiran Institute of the UFRR and with the UNHCR.
Besides having a practical objective, the courses also assist in the retrieval of human dignity within the context of a forced migration and social vulnerability. According to the testimony of Amarilis, a sheltered refugee of the Warao tribe in Jardim Floresta: “All the training that can be provided is welcome, and we will diligently take advantage of it.” And she continues: “We the Warao are ready to continue increasing our knowledge; we do not waste these opportunities, which are important, because these courses help us to grow as people, to be able to get out of the shelter here, to get work, because that is what we also want, that the Warao can work, work to be able to help the family.”
Summarizing, 2021 begins in the Roraima Mission with this exclusive focus on the humanitarian response for the Venezuelan indigenous immigrants, so complex because of their social and cultural specifics, something that is unique in the whole world within the humanitarian context; and the year will also be steered by the commitment to improve this response, especially with regards to the search for lasting solutions for this population, which represents a great challenge, but also an aspiration of the Humanitarian Fraternity (FFHI) for the retrieval of human dignity and for the establishment of a culture of peace among peoples.