IOM Provides Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees Access to Health Services in Brazil

Humanitarian Emergencies, Refugee and Asylum Issues

Boa Vista – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), working with the Brazilian Federal Government, is increasing its support to Venezuelans newly arrived in the country by facilitating their access to medical services.   

Twice this month IOM has assisted in the relocation of families in need of specialized medical attention. On June 3rd, Venezuelan ‘Yosmary’ (32) travelled with her family to the city of Tubarão, in southern Brazil, to receive medical treatment.  

At the same time, ‘María Luisa’ (56), who came with her family from Cumaná, in the State of Sucre, were among the 1,340 families relocated with IOM support, a process that guaranteed her access to health services in Brazil.    

Suffering from a disability, María Luisa arrived in Brazil in April 2019, accompanied by her sister and a nephew. They came to Brazil looking for better medical conditions but because access to public health services in Roraima, the state of their arrival, was difficult for them, IOM relocated them to Goiânia and provided medical assistance.  

“We came to Brazil with the intention of traveling to Goiânia, as we have family there,” María Luisa’s sister, Rosalinda, explained. “We believed she could continue her treatment, but we didn't have enough money to continue the trip. Now, thanks to the relocation and the medical treatment, I'm sure Maria will be in a better condition,” said Rosalinda, who is also María Luisa’s legal guardian. 

It was the second time in less than a month that IOM has supported the relocation of families in need of specialized medical attention. Earlier in June, Venezuelan Yosmary (32) travelled with her family to the city of Tubarão, in the south of the country, where she also received medical treatment. 

Yosmary lived with her husband and three children in one of the shelters for Venezuelans in Boa Vista. “Since the discovery of her disease we had a challenging time; my children and I were still living in the shelter, and my wife was hospitalized without treatment,” said Ali, Yosmary's husband.  

Yosmary discovered she had a brain tumour, a condition that requires immediate assistance.  

Due to the difficult access to this kind of procedure in Roraima, the Brazilian Armed Forces and civil society organizations found a hospital in Tubarão, where Yosmary could receive adequate treatment.  

To facilitate their access to the hospital, IOM provided airplane tickets to the family so that they could travel to Tubarão. An IOM official accompanied the family from Boa Vista to Tubarão’s shelter in the city. A non-governmental organization was waiting for them and will provide accommodation for the family.  

Such assistance is possible through the relocation process, thanks to a strategy created by the Brazilian Government – with the support of IOM, other UN agencies and civil society members – that has been implemented since April 2018. The plan is to bring together work relocation, family reunion, temporary shelters, medical care, and the support of civil society to provide accommodation across Brazil. By the end of May, over 8,000 people had already been relocated from Roraima to 17 Brazilian states through this strategy. 

This support was possible with the financial support of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) of the United States Department of State. 

In Tubarão, Yosmary is receiving appropriate treatment for her disease and is waiting for surgery. Yosmary’s husband hopes to get a job soon to settle down and start a new life in Tubarão. 

“In the relocation process, people with disabilities or serious illnesses have priority on the waiting list. The list of priorities also includes other situations such as people experiencing homelessness and people who must travel to provide support to a family member with a disability or terminal illness in the destination city,” explained Yssyssay Rodrigues, Project Coordinator at IOM Brazil. 

For more information, please contact Vitoria Souza, IOM Brasilia, Tel.: + 55 61 3771 3772 Email: 


  • Maria Luisa and her family during the pre-departure visit, Boa Vista - Brazil. Photo: IOM/Fábio Fonseca

  • Maria Luisa and her family during the pre-departure visit, Boa Vista - Brazil. Photo: IOM/Fábio Fonseca