Dozens of migrants from India and Vietnam stranded at Guarulhos airport | Brazil

Dozens of migrants from India and Vietnam stranded at Guarulhos airport | Brazil
About 400 foreign migrants were stranded at Guarulhos airportRowena Rosa/Agência Brasil

Published 06/14/2024 12:22 | Updated 06/14/2024 12:23

About 200 immigrants, most of them Indians, are stranded at the Cambica airport in Guarulhos, Greater Sao Paulo, due to an unusual influx of foreigners arriving without entry permits and a problem in the system for registering asylum requests, a request that would allow temporary entry, according to migration and justice officials.

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According to the Federal Public Ministry (MPF), the count of inadmissible immigrants reached almost 400 but fell to 187 on Thursday night, the 13th. Unless they have authorization to enter the country, they remain in the restricted area of ​​​​Guarulhos’ Terminal 3. In addition to Indians, who make up almost 80% of the group, migrants also come from Vietnam (15%), as well as African and other East Asian countries.

According to officials, foreigners were prevented from entering the country due to an operational problem in the asylum application registration system, Cisconare, which has shown instability in recent days due to updates made to other systems in the department.

Prosecutors also considered the situation a “humanitarian crisis” because a large number of people had been waiting to apply for asylum for almost a week. For this reason, a meeting was held this Thursday, the 13th, with several entities, including members of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP), the Federal Police and the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR).

After the meeting, officials said that Sinacor has been reestablished and the situation is returning to normal. According to the MPF, the situation should be completely resolved by next Sunday, the 16th.

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“The Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP), through the National Justice Secretariat (Senzas), monitors the situation of passengers staying at Guarulhos Airport,” the MJSP explained in a note.

“Instability occurred last week, as Cisconare has been integrated into the federal government’s Electronic Information System (SEI), whose recent version was updated,” the folder concludes. The federal police says it has created a task force to expedite requests from foreigners.

While they were stranded, the immigrants were provided with assistance by the airlines they traveled with, NGOs, the Guarulhos City Hall, and government agencies that help refugees, such as CONARE.

MPF checks retention

Immigrants who have already received permission to enter Brazil are not staying inside Guarulhos airport, as was the case with Afghan refugees.

“Everything indicates that these families already had some contact, or somewhere to stay,” explained public prosecutor Guilherme Rocha Goffert. He highlighted that the number of stranded migrants is due to a “combination of factors,” including both instability in the system and an above-normal increase in people arriving in the country in search of asylum.

The Federal Public Ministry launched an investigation process to determine the reasons why the foreigners were detained and how they were treated while they were at the immigrant airport.

The agency says it will propose improvements to the Cisconare system to prevent similar problems from recurring. “But we must increase our capacity to process asylum requests to prevent such situations from persisting in the long term,” it added.

The prosecutor sees similarities in the situation of Indians with that of the Vietnamese late last year, when hundreds of immigrants were also stranded in the immigration area of ​​Guarulhos airport after a high influx of asylum requests from travellers.

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At that time, the PF also launched an investigation to determine if the group was not being exploited by coyotes who use Brazil as a smuggling route to enter another country.

“That’s the risk. Many can cross the border to Brazil on foot. But we don’t know which direction they will take,” says Goffart, regarding the currently stranded immigrants. “Many actually use asylum to stay in Brazil and rebuild their lives, but others don’t.”

In a note sent, the Federal Police said that “investigations are repeatedly carried out into possible crimes that occur in the facilitation and/or promotion of immigration routes to carry out illegal immigration to other countries, through the so-called ‘coyotes’ or organized groups. And, always at the appropriate time, when there are arrests or actions to destroy their practitioners, the PF notifies them and makes it public”.

The PF explained that deportation occurs after entering the country illegally and/or remaining in the country after the authorised period has expired, “which is not the case for undocumented individuals residing in a restricted area”.

“Between the night of 13/6 and the morning of 14/6, of the 291 individuals who were inadmissible at Guarulhos airport, 59 who filed an asylum request and entered the country were instructed to seek CONARE where their request would be analyzed,” she said.

Refugee requests are on the rise in Brazil

Brazil increased the number of application approvals and the number of refugees in the country by 117% between 2022 and 2023. Data from the International Migration Observatory (OBMigra), administered by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, show that 77,193 people were recognized as refugees last year, for a total of 143,033 (in 2022, there were 65,840).

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The majority of new asylum requests were made by Venezuelans (50%), Cubans (19%) and Angolans (6%), populations that have historically sought asylum in Brazil due to geographic or linguistic proximity. Economic and political issues are the main reasons for leaving their homeland.

About the author: Cory Weinberg

"Student. Subtly charming organizer. Certified music advocate. Writer. Lifelong troublemaker. Twitter lover."

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