Protection and assistance Brazil

Venezuelan Migration Crisis

2018 - 2019
Published on Apr 03, 2018 02:00 AM  -  Updated on Jul 16, 2020 03:34 PM
TSF offers priority calls to Venezuelan refugees in Brazil in response to the one of the biggest migration crises in South American history.

Context: Migration crisis
Start date: 03/04/2018
End date: 31/12/2019
Areas of intervention: Boa Vista, Pacaraima, Manaus
Activities: Humanitarian calling operations

2 permanent humanitarian call centres
10 shelters and 9 centres supported by 4 mobile teams
300,000+ indirect beneficiaries of calling operations
500 free calls / day
50 hours of free calls / day


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 several hundred 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 2018, 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 Brazil, 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

TSF provides assistance to the thousands of Venezuelans refugees that crossed the border to the city of Boa Vista, Brazilian state of Roraima, 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 a specific profile of refugees, such as families, single people and indigenous communities.

In April 2018, the UNHCR opened a reference centre where TSF has been providing a permanent presence since then 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 and all can beneficiate from TSF calling operations.

Since June 2018, the programme is co-financed by UNHCR as part of a partnership agreement allowing its prolongation and its geographical extension. New reception centres are progressively opened, not only in Boa Vista, but also in Pacaraima and lately in Manaus, Capital of the State of Amazonas, by the UNHCR and local NGOs, under the supervision of the Brazilian government. TSF closely collaborates with all these actors to set up its Emergency Calling Centres in as many centres as possible, helping more and more Venezuelan refugees.


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