Refugees from Haiti and Venezuela facing new crisis as floods ravage southern Brazil

Tens of thousands of Haitians and Venezuelans who fled hunger, violence and natural disasters to seek refuge in Brazil are once again struggling to rebuild their lives following severe flooding in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), around 46,000 refugees currently live in the state, including 29,000 Venezuelans and 12,000 Haitians. Rio Grande do Sul was the third state to receive the most refugees from a government humanitarian program to resettle an influx of people fleeing Venezuela on Brazil’s northern border. Most of the refugees live in Sarandi, a neighborhood on the north side of Porto Alegre that has been the most ravaged after a dike collapsed. The 26,042 Sarandi residents whose homes were flooded are now in various shelters around the city. Many of them are undocumented, having left everything behind in a hurry as the floodwaters rose, adding to worries. Venezuelan Carina Gonzalez, 27, had to leave a backpack behind when she fled her home in chest-deep water, containing her documents and those of her 11-year-old daughter. Carina and her husband Xavier have guaranteed jobs but are worried about how to get to work. They crossed into Brazil in 2018, fleeing political tensions and economic crisis in neighboring Venezuela. Now they are facing upheaval again.