Syrians now largest refugee group in Brazil

Syrians fleeing the ongoing civil war in their country now make up the largest group of refugees in Brazil, the EFE reported.

Brazil took in 2,320 refugees in 2014, the bulk of whom came from Syria, the country’s Justice Ministry said Tuesday. In total, Brazil now houses 1,739 Syrians out of about 7,000 refugees from 80 different countries. Angolans are the second largest group in Brazil with 1,071 people granted refugee status.

The Justice Ministry’s refugee agency also said Brazil received more than 8,300 applications last year from Syrians seeking asylum in the South American country, a 29 percent increase from the nearly 6,000 applications it received in 2013.

Although the country is in a different hemisphere, Brazil has a strong connection to the Middle East and Syria, in particular, because of an early 20th century immigration wave that led to three million Brazilians with Syrian ancestry, UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, said.

Now in its fifth year, Syria’s civil war has displaced millions, including more than 3.7 million Syrians registered as refugees with the United Nations.

As of December, the U.S. has only accepted 300 Syrians refugees, the Los Angeles Times reported, although Washington officials have promised that the State Department was considering 9,000 applications, expecting “admissions from Syria to surge in 2015 and beyond.”

UNHCR released a report Wednesday calling for more international humanitarian support as large swaths of Syrian refugees slide into abject poverty. Two-thirds of Syrian refugees in Jordan now live below the poverty line, the report said.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said, in a statement, the “insufficient” global response would fail to give Syrians living in Jordan and other neighboring countries a “dignified life.”

Guterres also told the NewsHour in November that this “mega-crisis” in Syria “reflects the lack of capacity of the international community to prevent conflicts and to timely solve them.”

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