Venezuelan refugees arriving at the cities of Boa Vista and Pacaraima, in Roraima, Brazil, recently received encouraging news. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), a humanitarian organization related to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), have partnered to provide $600,000 in immediate aid for the region. According to government research, there are more than 50,000 Venezuelans in the Brazilian state of Roraima alone.
“ADRA is grateful for the support of USAID/OFDA. This award is a strong testament to our long-standing partnership with USAID/OFDA and ADRA’s lifesaving emergency response to meet pressing needs of people most vulnerable. It is our hope we increase support for the well-being of the Venezuelan people and reduce the burden on host communities,” said Imad Madanat, ADRA’s vice president for programs.
ADRA is the only NGO recipient of the award by USAID/OFDA concentrating aid efforts to 4,650 migrants in the cities of Pacaraima and Boa Vista located in Northern Brazil’s Roraima State, along the Brazil-Venezuela border. Boa Vista has accounted for more than 40,000 migrants from Venezuela, and to date, there are more than 52,000 Venezuelans who have sought refuge in Brazil according to a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) report.
According to a spokesman for ADRA Brazil, the project will assist 1,500 families, or 4,650 people, over a six-month period. This action will focus on complementing the work that the local government does and will provide material for basic needs.
Volunteers will begin distributing personal hygiene kits, mattresses, bedding, sandals and kitchen kits to the refugees to supplement food that is already provided by the government. During the dry season, there will be tank trucks working to provide water for the refugees and the locals. Also, for two months there will be an ambulance available for the government to use. The vehicle will provide structural support for the local health system that has encountered increase demands by the refugees’ arrival. For the next six months, volunteers will educate those living in shelters on the importance of practicing good hygiene and cleanliness in rather unsanitary conditions.
“At this delicate moment for our Venezuelan brothers, ADRA and OFDA are trying to bring, with supplies and support, comfort to these people who are already facing so many difficulties. At this time, they need the support to start again, and we will help them with all we have at our disposal,” says ADRA Brazil director Fábio Salles.
Since 2015, economic and political turmoil strained the Venezuelan population with high food shortages, price fluctuations, and increased crime and poverty, forcing individuals and families to leave the country.
The number of Venezuelans arriving in Brazil continues to rise with more than 800 Venezuelans entering Brazil every day says UNHCR. Among the many challenges for the arriving population is access to food, medicine, housing, work and education for boys and girls.