UN Migration Agency Launches Report on Indigenous Venezuelans Migration to Brazil

Migration Research

Brasilia - How do migration law and indigenous rights interplay? What rights do indigenous migrants have when reaching a foreign land? These are some of the questions addressed in the report Legal Aspects of the Assistance to Indigenous Migrants from Venezuela to Brazil, launched by IOM, the UN Migration Agency, last week (08/06).

The study focused on indigenous Venezuelans migrating to Brazil; a team of researchers from IOM Brazil worked in coordination with indigenous leaders and public authorities over six months.

With the research IOM aims to contribute to the emerging study field of international indigenous migration and to improve Brazil’s capacity to address the flow of Venezuelans arriving at its northern border.

In early 2016, the Warao people of Venezuela started coming to the northern Brazilian State of Roraima in great numbers, creating increased demand for public services and raising questions regarding their legal status in Brazil. IOM research examined how their indigenous cultural identity impacts their rights and the State’s duties under domestic and international law.

Through the report, IOM took the main concerns of indigenous leaders as well as federal and local authorities into account, itemized the applicable legislation, and came to 35 recommendations. The study points out that indigenous migrants in Brazil are protected by three different sets of legislation: the universal principles of human rights law; domestic law and international agreements for the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights; and Brazilian migration law – specifically the new protective tools that are available since the adoption of the new national migration law (November 2017).

This triple protection allows a rights-based approach to public policy planning and indicates that long-term solutions need to be developed in consultation with the indigenous communities. Topics such as access to education, health and shelter have a bigger impact on indigenous collective rights, including on their right to cultural identity, and thus need to be addressed accordingly.

Stephane Rostiaux, IOM Brazil Chief of Mission, explained that Brazilian transit cities for Venezuelan migrants were not used to dealing with big volume of migrants. “Indigenous migrants pose an additional challenge to those public authorities managing the new flow,” he said.

Research leader Erika Yamada, who is also an independent expert member of the UN Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said: “The invisibility of indigenous peoples’ cultural identity in the context of migration is a global challenge for the protection of their human rights.”

“In Brazil, the specificities of the Warao migration from Venezuela has shown that adequate public policies should consider the characteristics of a continuing indigenous movement across boarders that differ from more traditional migration flows. Other countries dealing with indigenous migrants can learn from the Brazilian experience,” she added.

A preliminary research report was presented at the National School of Public Administration (ENAP), in March 2018, in a workshop with academics, governmental officials and civil society representatives.

Download the report here.

For more information, please contact Marcelo Torelly at IOM Brazil, Tel: +55 61 3038 9014, Email: mtorelly@iom.int

  • IOM Launches Report on Indigenous Venezuelans in Brazil