Latin America heeds the cries of refugees

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

An article by Laura Bécquer Paseiro, Granma

Despite the differences in culture, religion and language, Latin America has offered a prompt response to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean caused by wars in the Middle East and North Africa, specifically the conflict in Syria which has threatened the population there since 2011.

granma
Foto: AFP

Despite the differences in culture, religion and language, Latin America has offered a prompt response to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean caused by wars in the Middle East and North Africa, specifically the conflict in Syria which has threatened the population there since 2011.

The unstable situation in this country has led to the displacement of some four million people, the largest such humanitarian crisis since WWII.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 350,000 persons have crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe. While authorities there continue to discuss how to repatriate immigrants, a new opportunity is available on the other side of the Atlantic.

Countries like Brasil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile have established programs to receive refugees. Some 6,000 Syrians have been received thus far in Brasilia, Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

Employment opportunities and access to health and education are some of the advantages the region offers those fleeing violence in their native countries.

Legislation protecting refugees in many Latin American countries has been described by the United Nations as excellent.

The fundamental principles of this policy were adopted last December in Brasilia, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees.

The action plan adopted expressed the commitment of Latin American and Caribbean governments to approach the problem from a humanitarian point of view. Examples of this effort include the implementation of programs such as Quality Asylum, and Borders with Solidarity and Security, which address the needs of people who live, cross or return to border areas.

Brazil is the Latin American country which has received the greatest number of Syrians, 2,077 since 2011. Some 1,700 are in shelters and 4,000 have requested asylum, according to the Justice Ministry’s National Refugee Committee (Conare), as the European crisis continues.

The more than 10,000 kilometers which separate the region from the epicenter of conflict are not an impediment. Latin America is an alternative, a place to start anew.

( Click here for a version in Spanish.)

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