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Hundreds of asylum seekers stranded at Sao Paulo's main airport

Friday, June 14th 2024 - 09:56 UTC
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Brazil's Justice Ministry said there was a problem with the digital platform used for registering refugee applications Brazil's Justice Ministry said there was a problem with the digital platform used for registering refugee applications

São Paulo's Guarulhos Airport has 291 asylum seekers held in a restricted area pending the approval of their applications, Agencia Brasil reported Thursday. Most of the travelers stemmed from India, it was also explained.

Given this situation, the São Paulo Federal Public Prosecutor's Office called an emergency meeting with the Federal Police, the United Nations Refugee Agency, the Airport operators, and the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (Anvisa).

The restricted area is a section of the terminal where immigrants lacking visas or travel documents are held before officially entering the country. These foreigners wait until they are granted refuge or sent back to their country of origin.

The Federal Public Prosecutor's Office has declared the situation a “new humanitarian crisis at the airport,” noting that Guarulhos recently experienced a significant influx of individuals from Afghanistan and Vietnam.

Prosecutor's Office representatives, who were in Guarulhos earlier this week, reported that approximately 400 immigrants were in the immigration area. In addition to Indians, there were nationals from other countries, such as Nepal.

There is still no confirmation regarding the reasons these immigrants went to Brazil. It is believed that they arrived in Guarulhos on different flights over the past few days and are encountering difficulties with entry procedures, including failures in the National System for Processing Refugee Applications (Sisconare), the digital platform used for registering refugee applications in the country.

Brazil's Justice Ministry explained in a statement that it was working to resolve “temporary instabilities” affecting the tool due to “updates and improvements made to other electronic systems of the ministry, to which Sisconare is linked.”

According to the ministry, there were 291 immigrants in the restricted area, who were described as “travelers who, for the most part, have already expressed their intention to apply for refuge and should have their process followed up in the coming days” while work was under way with the Federal Police to “accelerate and maximize the capacity for processing applications, in accordance with the rules on the refuge and respect for human rights.”

Letícia Carvalho, from Missão Paz, a philanthropic institution that supports and welcomes immigrants and refugees, told TV Brasil that she was also at the airport on Wednesday in contact with these immigrants. According to her, the scenario is complex and has also been observed in other parts of the world but has been aggravated in Brazil by the instability in Sisconare.

Last year, hundreds of Vietnamese citizens faced a similar situation when they were detained in the airport's immigration area. The suspicion at the time was that networks of coyotes and smugglers were behind the migratory flow, aiming to use Brazil as a gateway to the United States.

Categories: Politics, Brazil, International.

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