Open community to respond to Venezuelan-Brazil border emergencies

A new community of Scalabrinian missionary nuns has been opened in Pacaraima, a town in northern Brazil on the border with Venezuela. The congregation, which has been dealing with migrants since its foundation, is thus trying to support those families that are reaching Brazil because in recent months Venezuela has been hit by a severe economic and social crisis.

There are about 50,000 Venezuelans, in fact, who are asking for help from the State of Roraima, one of 26 that makes up the Brazilian federation. “The migrants are looking for new opportunities for life and work – explains Sister Zenaide Ziliotto, Superior of the Scalabrinian province ‘Mary, Mother of the migrants’ – Let’s give them opportunities to know what Brazil can offer and what can be done once here”.

Thousands reach Pacaraima, in a journey of about 200 kilometres. They walk a path that sees them walk the Pan-American Avenue that unites the two countries. The Church and the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters are engaged daily in the service of accommodation and welcome, including a daily breakfast that is offered every day to about 700 people.

“Here in Pacaraima there is the Lampedusa of Brazil – adds Sister Zenaide – The tail in the border is big. They come here to try to find a job and something to eat. Young people, the elderly, families and women are coming. It’s a very complex situation.