Wed, Sep 09, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Brazil, others, offer to take in refugees

CHILEAN OFFER:President Michelle Bachelet said her people have ‘always had our doors open,’ while a plan was submitted to offer shelter to about 100 Syrian families

AFP, BRASILIA

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff stands in a vehicle during a parade to commemorate the nation’s Independence Day in Brasilia on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

Brazil will welcome Syrian refugees with “open arms,” Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said on Monday, as various Latin American nations sought to help with the human tidal wave fleeing the war-torn nation.

In a video message marking Brazil’s Independence Day, Rousseff said she wanted to “reiterate the government’s willingness to welcome those who, driven from their homeland, want to come, live, work and contribute to the prosperity and peace of Brazil.”

“Especially in these difficult times, these times of crisis, we have to welcome refugees with open arms,” she said.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told his foreign ministry to take steps to receive 20,000 Syrians in the country.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said her country also would be willing to accept refugees, without specifying a number or nationality.

“Throughout our history, we have always had our doors open to those, sometimes coming from faraway places, bringing their history and culture to the construction of our nation,” Bachelet said.

Leaders of Chile’s Arab community, which numbers about 300,000 people, approached the Chilean government with a plan to offer shelter and support to about 100 refugee families from Syria.

Brazil has taken in more than 2,000 Syrian refugees since the start of the conflict in 2011, more than any other country in Latin America.

Syrians are the largest refugee group in Brazil. Last year, 1,405 were given refuge. Two years ago, Brazil streamlined the process of taking in such refugees under a program originally set to end this month.

Brazilian attorney general Beto Vasconcelos was quoted by local media as saying the government was considering extending the measure.

Rousseff spoke about the photograph of a lifeless Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach that has become a symbol of the migrant crisis.

“The image of the child, Aylan Kurdi, barely three years old, touched us all, and presented the world with a great challenge,” she said.

European leaders are scrambling as conflicts in Syria, Iraq and beyond send many on dangerous treks through the Balkans and across the Mediterranean Sea to the EU.

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