The United Nations' top refugee official met with Brazilian Government leaders today to seek support for a new plan to protect and assist those who have been forced to flee their homes.
On the second day of his first visit to Latin America since he took office in June, High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is scheduled to meet with President Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, the National Bishops Conference, and parliamentarians, to enlist their further aid in promoting the "Mexico Plan of Action" an international blueprint to protect and assist refugees.
According to the office of the High Commissioner (UNHCR) Brazil has shown regional leadership on refugee issues and promises to be an active partner in the promotion of tolerance for refugees within the international community at large. Brazil also has the ability to help prevent the worsening of conflicts in the region that might result in refugee outflows.
Brazil was one of the first countries in Latin America to sign (in 1960) the 1951 Refugee Convention. It was also the first country in southern South America to pass a national refugee law in 1997. Last year, it played an important role in the adoption by 20 Latin American States of the Mexico Plan of Action.
Along with Chile, Brazil has also established one of the first resettlement programmes in Latin America, under which it has received 170 refugees, most of them Colombian. It has granted asylum to some 3,000 refugees from 58 countries, the agency says.
Yesterday, Mr. Guterres met with the Minister of Justice, the National Refugee Committee, ambassadors from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries, and with refugees from Colombia, Iraq, Rwanda, Peru, the former Yugoslavia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Angola and Georgia.
"In all of his encounters, the High Commissioner cited Brazil's tradition of asylum as a model of solidarity with refugees," said a UNHCR spokesperson. "Mr. Guterres also expressed his commitment to enhanced efforts with partners towards the integration of urban refugees, a challenge UNHCR currently faces throughout Latin America," she added.