TSF scales up its calling operations for Venezuelan refugees in partnership with the UNHCR

Publication date: Jul 06, 2018 06:35 PM - Last modication date: Aug 30, 2018 11:03 AM
Present in Boa Vista since 5th April, Télécoms Sans Frontières was among the first International NGOs to respond to the Venezuelan migration crisis.

Thanks to our IP telephony solution (Internet Protocol - ToIP) set up in the TSF Emergency Call Centres (TECC), more than 24,193 calls - representing 2,780 hours - have enabled thousands of families to reconnect.

Through these calls, Venezuelan refugees in Brazil could inform their family back home of their situation and reassure them. According to our local teams, many refugees call their loved ones to say that they will soon be sending aid – money, food or medicine.

Refugees also have the opportunity to call to seek for work, to contact a doctor or to carry out the necessary administrative tasks for the regularisation of their situation. These Venezuelans have no regular status and are therefore vulnerable to all forms of exploitation, abuse, violence, trafficking and discrimination; it is essential that they can contact organisations that can inform them and support them.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) immediately recognised the usefulness of TSF's mission and supported its implementation in the shelters that it manages. UNHCR in Brazil expressed the importance of communication for Venezuelan refugees:    

"Contact with family members is very important for them to feel stronger during this period of reconstruction," says the programme assistant at the São Vicente shelter.

Since 1st June, the programme has been co-financed by UNHCR as part of a partnership agreement allowing its prolongation until the end of the year and its geographical extension.

According to recent figures provided by the Federal Police to UNHCR, 600 to 700 Venezuelans enter Brazil each day via the border town of Pacaraima; and nearly 7,000 of them are in urgent need of emergency shelter in the state of Roraima. Three new shelters were opened in Boa Vista and one in Pacaraima.

In order to adapt to growing needs, TSF has expanded its operations in the three new shelters in Boa Vista, as well as in a day centre run by a local church - hosting around 1,000 people each day.

Venezuelans settled in the eleven shelters in Boa vista benefit from priority calls offered by TSF. Activities are carried out daily, on a roving basis, between the eight shelters, the Support Centre Servicio Jesuita al Migrante (SJM) and the Consolata Church day centre. A permanent presence has been maintained at the UNHCR Reference Centre since it opened on 20th April.

Soon, the operations will be extended to two new accommodation centres in Boa Vista and one centre of Pacaraima.