Brazil immigrants face long wait at border town

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Migrants waiting at a Border Town- BBC

Migrants waiting at a Border Town- BBC

In the heart of a shelter packed with immigrants in the Brazilian state of Acre, about 30 men try to concentrate despite the noisy crowd.

Sitting on their mattresses, they read and pray quietly.

“Every day we ask God to shorten our stay here,” says Ahmadou Thiao from Senegal.

He arrived two months ago in the town of Brasileia, near the border with Peru and Bolivia, and is one of 1,300 foreigners waiting for a visa to work in Brazil. The centre is meant to shelter just 200 people.

Many who came were attracted by reports of the South American country’s growing economy and job opportunities leading up to the 2014 World Cup.

After entering Brazil, however, they were taken to a place with few toilets and no showers, surrounded by mud.

The vast border of South America’s largest country makes it very difficult to stop this flow.

Officials in Acre have declared a “social emergency” in Brasileia and one other town, asking for help from the federal government including the use of security forces to try to contain the problem.

State Governor Tiao Viana describes the influx as a “human tragedy”, calling for action from the Brazilian and Peruvian governments to address the situation.
Many migrants are being attracted to Brazil by the economic boom
He told BBC Mundo there was now a well established international route into Brazil and people from as far away as Bangladesh and Nigeria were aware of it.

“Intelligence agencies have identified the presence of ‘coyotes’ [people smugglers] earning a lot of money. And that is something we are worried about,” he said.

“We cannot imagine that Brazil is going to solve the problems of the world and Africa.”

State Secretary for Human Rights Nilson Mourao warned of a possible health crisis.

“Miraculously, everyone is healthy,” he said.

“But if there is any epidemic at the shelter we wouldn’t know what to do,” he added, noting that outbreaks of dengue, a mosquito-borne disease, are common in the region.

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