Guarulhos, Brazil – They left behind dreams, family members, their possessions — everything they knew. For nearly 100 Afghan refugees camping out in São Paulo’s international airport, the only thing they have are a few articles of clothing and a lot of hope.
Data from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) show that since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August 2021, more than 2.7 million Afghans have fled the country — some escaping the oppressive regime, others fearing retribution for their years working with the United States military.
Thousands of those refugees have made the long journey to Brazil, which began offering humanitarian visas to Afghans in September 2021.
On paper, the two-year visa allows refugees to work in the country, and it also provides access to public health, education and social assistance services.
In practice, however, the Brazilian government is having trouble receiving and properly caring for many Afghans once they arrive in the country.
Nowhere is the result of the government’s lack of organization more visible than on the mezzanine of Terminal 2 at the Governor André Franco Montoro International Airport that serves the city of São Paulo.
According to information provided to Brazil Reports by the city of Guarulhos, where the airport is located, 99 Afghans are currently living in a makeshift camp near the check-in area in Terminal 2. Sheets, blankets and towels have been formed into improvised tents, providing little privacy for these refugees as travellers mull about the terminal.
Brazil Reports visited the camp on December 22, just days before Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office as Brazil’s new president. We spoke with refugees, NGOs and government officials to learn more about the current status of Afghan refugees in