Brazil granted record number of refugee applications in 2023

By June 14, 2024

São Paulo, Brazil – Brazil approved a record number of refugee applications in 2023, recognizing 77,193 individuals as refugees, according to data released Thursday by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security in collaboration with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The figure represents a staggering 1,232.1% increase compared to 2022, when 5,795 people were granted refugee status.

The majority of refugees — 97.5% — come from Venezuela, Brazil’s neighbor to the north which has been affected by economic turmoil for nearly a decade. The country’s humanitarian crisis has led to one of the world’s largest displacements, with 7.7 million Venezuelans fleeing the country, according to the UNHCR.

Venezuelans crossing the border with Brazil
(Marcelo Camargo/Agencia Brasil)

Most have fled to Colombia (2.9 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants), Ecuador (259,000 people registered), Peru (214,000 people registered), and Chile (182,000 people registered), according to the UNHCR.

Brazil recognized 128,570 Venezuelans as refugees last year, significantly expanding its total refugee population to 143,033, up from 65,840 in the previous year.

According to Brazilian authorities, the substantial increase in approved applications stems from the efforts of a special task force established by the Brazilian Refugee Committee to expedite the processing of a backlog of requests. Much of the petitions had been sitting in the agency’s office for years awaiting decisive action.

The report further highlights that Brazil received refugee applications from citizens of 150 countries in 2023. Venezuela led the way with 29,467 applications, followed by Cuba (11,479) and Angola (3,957).
Brazil’s refugee program extends protection to individuals facing persecution due to race, religion, nationality, or political opinions, as well as to citizens from countries experiencing severe and widespread human rights violations.