National conference gathers 788 people to discuss migration and refuge policies in Brazil

São Paulo, 3 June 2014 - Brazil's 1 st National Conference on Migration and Refuge (Comigrar, in Portuguese),   held from 30 May to 1 st June in São Paulo, finished on Sunday. The event was organized by the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support from the United Nations agencies UNODC, IOM, UNHCR and UNDP.

The conference was aimed at promoting an expanded social dialogue to support the development of the National Policy on Migration and Refuge based on human rights. The event had a broad participation of migrants and refugees and promoted the convergence between the agendas of different government bodies.

There were debates on services and rights for migrants; their economic, social and productive integration; citizenship and recognition of diversity; means of prevention and protection in cases of violation of rights; and social participation.

"I don't think there has ever been another event that managed to raise such a broad set of proposals, according to such diverse, dynamic, pluralistic and representative points of view", said the National Secretary of Justice, Paulo Abrão. "The greatest legacy of this conference is enabling everyone to hear the aspects from each other, seeing the issue on a plural and multidisciplinary way."

Abrão also stressed that Comigrar leaves as a legacy a great mobilization and awareness movement about the topic of migration in Brazil. "Social rights are conquered through mobilization," he said.

The national phase of Comigrar was attended by 788 people, including 232 observers, 556 delegates from 30 nationalities of 21 Brazilian states, 65 volunteers and 22 media outlets. Delegates were elected among migrants, refugees, scholars, public servants and professionals involved in the subject.

To prepare the documents of Comigrar, 202 preparatory conferences were held, with the participation of organizations and social movements (45%); the academic community (16%), Brazilians living abroad (13%); the government (11%); foreigners in Brazil (5%) and others (10%). A total of 2,840 proposals elaborated by 5,374 participants were referred to the national phase.

During the opening of the event, the Minister of Justice, José Eduardo Cardozo, announced the launch of the Migrant Integration Plan, which prioritizes the hosting of the Haitian population in Brazil, especially in the states of Acre and São Paulo.

"It is very important that the Brazilian State says loudly and clearly that Brazil has a tradition of welcoming people who want to come and live here. Brazil has a tradition of respecting migrants. The Brazilian government will not give up this policy", said Cardozo.

Good Practices Fair

After the announcement, the Ministry of Justice awarded the Simone Borges Award to three projects that were presented at the 1 st National Fair on Practices to Counter Trafficking in Persons and Experiences on Migration Policies: "Women in Motion", from the NGO "Só Direitos" (1st place); "Visits to Sewing Workshops and Base Multipliers", from the Support Centre for Immigrants - CAMI (2nd place); and the Brazilian Solidarity Resettlement Program - ASAV (3rd place).

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