Brazil: The ICRC's work to help migrants

Brazil: The ICRC's work to help migrants

Migration is a complex, global phenomenon, which has multiple and diverse causes. Regardless of why people leave their country of origin, when they migrate they can become vulnerable. One of the ICRC's priorities in Brazil is to help migrants.
Article 14 February 2019 Brazil

After a journey lasting several days, weeks or even months, hearing the voice of a close relative, a loved one, is a great encouragement, even if that voice is hundreds or thousands of miles away.

PHOTO: Igo Estrela/Metrópoles

In July 2018, the ICRC began implementing the Restoring Family Links (RFL) programme in three service stations located in the border city of Pacaraima, in northern Brazil. Additionally, in September another station was set up in Boa Vista, capital of the State of Roraima, where an ICRC office was also opened.

ICRC's services in Roraima, border state with Venezuela

The service provided by RFL is part of the ICRC´s regional response to migration in several countries in South America. The objective of this initiative is to assist migrants, offering them the opportunity to stay in contact with their loved ones and to inform them of their whereabouts.

The migrants that get to the ICRC's service unit have the opportunity to speak by telephone with their families. Many of them do not have a telephone and the ones that have cannot afford long distance calls. The ICRC's service is free. Photo: S.Lefcovich/ICRC

"Many migrants arrive in Brazil with no mobile phones or with no international roaming services", explains Fernando Fornaris, head of the ICRC office in Boa Vista.

The service includes free 3 minute phone calls, as well as acces to internet for Facebook or Whatsapp and power supply for phone charging. Overall, more than 442 thousand services of phone calls, internet access and battery charging were used by migrants so far.

The service began to benefit more people since services were expanded in August 2019, in addition to being more accessible to migrants. In all, there are 17 service centers in Roraima:

FrequencyBoa VistaPacaraima
Boa Vista: Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.
Pacaraima: Sunday to Monday from 9am to 5pm.
  • Reception centre (PTRIG)
  • Roraima Federal University (UFRR)
  • International Bus Station
  • Reception and Identification Office (PRI)
  • Reception centre (PTRIG)
Two to three times a week service.
  • Brazilian Cáritas
  • Jesuit Service for Migrants (SJMR)
  • During the internalization process
  • Migrant shelter BV8
  • Pastoral Care of Migrants
Once a week
  • Nova Canaã Shelter
  • Pintolândia Shelter
  • Jardim Floresta Shelter
  • São Vicente II Shelter
  • Tancredo Neves Shelter
  • Santa Teresa Shelter
  • Janokoida Shelter


 In Brazil, some migrants became collaborators of the ICRC in Pacaraima and in Boa Vista posts. Below are some testimonials (in Portuguese): 

For a variety of reasons, migrants often arrive in Brazil without any documentation. The ICRC helps migrants contact families from their home countries to locate these documents. Once found, the ICRC facilitates the delivery of these documents to Brazil.

Water and sanitation

As part of the ICRC's water, sanitation and infrastructure activities, three wells were made in Pacaraima, one in the Diocese, one in the reception and identification office (PRI) and another at the State Hospital, from which more than 2000 migrants and local residents benefit every month.

Over 442,000
services of phone calls, internet access and battery charging were used by migrants so far.