Every minute 31 people are forcibly displaced worldwide

A new UNHCR report presents data showing the need to improve reception policies and ensuring migrants’ rights

Venezuelans represented the greatest proportion of requests for refugee status in Brazil in 2017. Venezuelans represented the greatest proportion of requests for refugee status in Brazil in 2017.

Carlos is a Journalist and Venezuelan. After he refused to accept a bribe while working at the state TV station he was persecuted and threatened. He recounts that he was the victim of an express kidnapping and that his family were also harassed. Carlos was faced with a difficult choice. He left everything behind and boarded a bus to Manaus. From Manaus, Carlos headed for Recife with his remaining belongings – two suitcases and less than 80 dollars.

Two years on, Carlos now lives in São Paulo where he works as a cook in a hotel and has started his own business, a delivery service of Venezuelan food. Now Carlos, Marifer and their daughter live under the same roof on Brazilian territory. The journalist is one of the 22 thousand Venezuelans, requesting refugee status, who are waiting for Conare (the National Refugee Committee) to come to a decision about their applications.

According to UNHCR data (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), since 2013, when the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela deepened, almost 1.5 million people have left the country. This contingent is only surpassed by Syrians, Afghans and South Sudanese. The data unveils the size of the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. Sixty eight and a half million people were forcibly removed from their homes, including within their own country, according to 2017 data.


This is the equivalent of 31 people every minute being forcibly displaced worldwide. This reality is not exclusive to countries at war, as in the case of Syria, but also affects countries suffering serious human rights violations or armed internal conflict as is the case in Colombia, where 7.7 million people were forced to move location due to the conflict that has been dragging on since the 1970s.



The developing countries host the most refugees. Turkey follows as the country that hosts most, with 3.5 million refugees, Bangladesh however had the greatest proportional increase. In one year the contingent tripled, going from 276 thousand to 932 thousand refugees. This increase was largely due to the crisis of the Rohingya in Myanmar, an ethnic minority that has been suffering discrimination and armed attacks and has been forced to migrate to the neighbouring country in precarious conditions, in search of safety.



Another striking piece of data in the report is that over half the world’s refugees are children (52%). The report also includes a new survey indicating that 173,800 children migrated alone. The organ itself admits that this number is underestimated and warns that this group is more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

Refuge in Brazil

Currently, Venezuelans are the largest group of applicants for refugee status arriving in Brazil. There were 22,315 applications between 2010 and 2017 with 17,865 of these sent to Conare in 2017 alone. Syrians and Haitians once occupied this position. Syrians were promptly granted refugee status and Haitians were given humanitarian reception, a provision implemented through the new Migration Law (13.445/2017), sanctioned about a year ago.

According to Conare, between 2010 and 2017 Brazil received 126,102 applications for refugee status and granted 10,145 applications, but only 5,134 refugees currently live in the country. Around 80 thousand applications are still in progress and have not been analysed by Conare. The majority of these applications, 15,955, came from Roraima, the main entry route into the country used by Venezuelans.

“This discrepancy in Brazil, which on the one hand seeks to offer humanitarian reception to Venezuelans and historically has acted positively in this sense, but which on the other hand is taking a long time to grant refugee status to current applicants, drew the attention of the National Human Rights Council which has issued a recommendation to the Ministry of Justice, requesting that Venezuelans be recognised as refugees, in line with Article 1, III of the Brazilian Refugee Law.” Said Camila Asano, Conectas Programme Coordinator.

Find out more

Receive Conectas updates by email