Context: Migration crisis
Start date: 03/04/2018
End date: Ongoing
Areas of intervention: Boa Vista, State of Roraima
Activities: Humanitarian calling operations

2 permanent humanitarian call centres
10 shelters and 6 centres supported by 4 mobile teams
185,000 indirect beneficiaries of calling operations
500 free calls / day
50 hours of free calls / day

Linked technologies

Venezuelan Migration Crisis

Publication date: Apr 03, 2018 12:00 AM
Last modication date: Nov 26, 2018 02:42 PM
2018 - Ongoing
TSF offers priority calls to Venezuelan refugees in Brazil in response to the one of the biggest migration crises in South American history.


Tens of thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing the economic and social collapse that has led to runaway inflation (+2,600% in 2017 and an estimated +13,000% in 2018 according to the IMF and deficiency in several major social sectors such as health and education.

These inflation rates have brought about serious shortages that have led to problems of malnutrition and the development of diseases such as skin infections, malaria, and diarrhoea. The majority of medicine and surgical equipment is now lacking, and hospitals have problems with regular water supply.

From January 2017 to May 2018, an estimated 52,000 Venezuelans have entered Brazil and approximately 800 continue to cross the border each day. In February 2018, the Brazilian government announced a "state of social emergency" in the State of Roraima and the creation of a federal emergency assistance committee to support refugees. Authorities are expecting the continuation of a dense flow of arrivals on the territory.


On April 5, Télécoms Sans Frontières was among the first international NGOs to deploy to Brazil in response to the latest and largest migration crisis in South American history.

While the Brazilian government, local NGOs and UN agencies intervene on vital needs, communications remain essential. TSF’s objective is to offer priority calls to the thousands of Venezuelan refugees in the border towns of Boa Vista and Pacaraima, not only to enable them to communicate with their relatives but also to carry out the administrative tasks necessary for the regularisation of their situation.

Humanitarian calling centres

Approximately 50,000 Venezuelans have taken refuge in Boa Vista, capital of the Brazilian state of Roraima, about 200 km from the border. TSF provides assistance to these vulnerable refugees by allowing them to contact their relatives, often for the first time since their departure, through the use of an IP (Internet Protocol) telephony solution specially designed by TSF and adapted to contexts of humanitarian crises.

In close alliance with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), TSF first began its activities going from centre to centre, and then worked to support as many people as possible by organising its operations on a daily roving basis in the five drop-in centres and the Servicio Jesuita al Migrant (SJM) support centre. Each centre hosts specific a profile of refugees, such as families, single people and indigenous communities. The total capacity of the five centres is 2,500, with an expected increase due to the opening of six additional centres planned for June 2018.

Since 18th April, opening date of the UNHCR-run Reference Centre, TSF has provided a permanent presence to offer free calls to more than 100 people each day. This centre is an essential crossing point for all administrative procedures such as biometric registration for asylum applications, work and housing permit applications and identification cards for food and aid distributions. The centre is open to all refugees, including those who are not registered in a 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.

In light of the enduring daily arrivals, the six reception centres were progressively opened by the UNHCR and local NGOs, under the supervision of the Brazilian government. TSF immediately set up Emergency Calling Centres, covering all 13 reception and information centres for refugees in the city.

TSF is closely monitoring the situation in the city of Pacaraima where tensions have recently emerged. Our team is currently on-site to assess needs and evaluate developments with relevant local authorities and the UNHCR.