(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s federal police expect the influx of Venezuelans pouring across the border to increase, as the economic and humanitarian crisis in the Andean country deepens.
Rosilene Santiago, head of the federal police in the northern Brazilian state of Roraima, said the number of Venezuelans who have applied for refugee status has increased from 40 in 2015 to 22,000 in 2017. Brazil is braced for a record high this year, after more than 20,000 requests in the first four months of 2018.
"There have been several peaks, and now is one of them," Santiago told reporters invited on a trip to the state by the Brazilian presidency. "The overall tendency is that the flow is increasing."
Home to the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela has collapsed into disarray after two decades of corruption and mismanagement that have wiped out most of its crude production and fueled hyperinflation, widespread shortages and violent crime. As the situation worsens, desperate residents have fled to other countries, including Brazil, which had never previously hosted UN Refugee Agency shelters.
General Eduardo Pazuello, who is in charge of the military deployment in the region handling the influx, regards the situation as "stable." But he told reporters that the authorities are up-grading current camps and shelters, as well as building new welcome facilities so that the Armed Forces aren’t "taken by surprise."
Bloomberg spoke to dozens of Venezuelans in Roraima’s capital Boa Vista. Most of them said the would be soon joined in Brazil by relatives and friends who remained in Venezuela.
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