SÃO PAULO – Brazil has approved a record number of refugee applications, including for 532 Syrian nationals, the country’s National Committee for Refugees announced on Wednesday.
Some 680 applications for refugee status were approved on Wednesday alone, more than all applications given the green light in 2013, the committee, which is linked to the Brazilian National Justice Secretariat, said.
The raft of new approvals – the first since a new resolution simplified procedures set out by the country – means the Brazilian refugee population grew to 6,588, an increase of around 10 percent.
“Greater productivity in the way we analyse cases coincided with an 800-percent increase in applications in the last four years,” National Justice Secretary and committee president Paulo Abrão (pictured) said, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
“The diversification of the refugees’ countries of origins reaffirms Brazil as a place of protection and its global image as a country that is traditionally open, democratic and capable of protecting human rights,” Abrão added.
Many of the other 148 people to be granted refugee status are from African countries, including 57 from Mali, 22 from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 19 from Nigeria and smaller numbers from nations including Angola, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast.
Others included three new refugees from Pakistan, two from Colombia and one each from Sudan, Lebanon and Palestine.
According to the local news reports, the newly-approved applications mean there are now 1,245 Syrian refugees in Brazil – now more than any other nationality. The other biggest groups are from Colombia, Angola, Congo and Lebanon.
It is thought that over 2 million people have left Syria since the start of the country’s bloody civil war in 2011, in which an estimated 130,000 people are now believed to have lost their lives.