Life Plan reveals future perspectives for Venezuela’s indigenous people

UNICEF and CIR launch the Life Plan for the Original Peoples of Venezuela in Brazil, focused on the long-term development of the populations that make up the Venezuelan migration flow

02 August 2023
Um homem fala no microfone. Ele está sentado a uma mesa. Há pessoas ao redor dele.
UNICEF/BRZ/Kelyson Souza
Alberto Conejero, indigenous migrant, speaks during the launch of the Life Plan for the Original Peoples of Venezuela in Brazil – Warao, E’ñepa and Ka’riña in Brazil.

Boa Vista, August 2, 2023 – Amongst the almost 480 thousand Venezuelans living in Brazil today, there are also many indigenous peoples: it is estimated that more than seven thousand original indigenous people from Venezuela have migrated to Brazil since the beginning of the migration flow. Just like Brazilian indigenous peoples, many of them face a situation of great vulnerability. In order to facilitate the dialogue of these populations with Brazilian institutions to define a perspective for their future, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), in partnership with the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR, the Portuguese acronym for Conselho Indígena de Roraima), launched the Life Plan for the Warao, E'ñepa and Ka'riña Original Indigenous Peoples from Venezuela living in Brazil.

The document is the result of a sequence of dialogues and exchanges of experiences with these groups who mostly reside in the shelters of the Welcome Operation, the humanitarian response of the Brazilian Federal Government and partners in the state of Roraima.

“The objective of the Life Plan is to support the development of public policies, actions, projects and programs that facilitate the achievement of the hopes, desires and dreams of indigenous populations who were forced to migrate to Brazil. The document was created so that the voices of these people can be heard and used as the basis for the overall planning of any and all organizations that come to work with this population”, says the technical coordinator for Indigenous Affairs at UNICEF in Brazil, Léia do Vale.

Foto mostra uma mulher falando em um microfone. Ela está em pé atrás de uma mesa. Em primeiro plano, aparecem as cabeças de várias pessoas sentadas de costas para a câmera.
UNICEF/BRZ/Kelyson Souza

Sinéia do Vale, from UNICEF, speaks during the launch of the Life Plan in the presence of indigenous peoples from Venezuela and partners from the Government, civil society and UN agencies.

For the original peoples of Brazil, this type of dialogue is often led by the Territorial and Environmental Management Plans (PGTA, the Portuguese acronym for Planos de Gestão Territorial e Ambiental). This doesn’t apply to refugees and migrants that don’t have a territory and in large part live in shelters in Roraima.

To lay down the barriers, such as language, as well as to ensure the full participation of these peoples – in line with the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 1988 Constitution of Brazil – the Life Plan construction workshops also used drawings as a methodology.

“This document is cyclical, having its own period of construction, implementation, evaluation and review. It is not a static or closed plan, because the community is renewed as policies change. Indigenous peoples have the autonomy to build and recreate the plan according to their reality. The Life Plan brings in its essence the notion that indigenous peoples should manage their territories and their lives”, reinforces Sinéia do Vale, the coordinator of the Environment Department of the Indigenous Council of Roraima.

Foto mostra uma papel grande com desenhos. Em pé ao lado do papel estão algumas pessoas.
UNICEF/BRZ/Kelyson Souza

Indigenous people from Venezuela outline their hopes for the future in one of the Life Plan construction workshops in 2020.

The workshops were held between 2020 and 2022 in indigenous communities in Roraima. In each of the meetings, the Waraos, E´ñepas and Ka’riñas also had the opportunity to better understand how the Brazilian State works and to dialogue with representatives from different institutional sectors that are related to their needs, expectations and demands.

The hope to keep on dreaming

For Alberto Conejero, a migrant from the E’ñepa people who currently lives in the Jardim Floresta shelter in Boa Vista, the construction of the Life Plan motivated the community to envision the possibilities of life in their new country.

“We saw that the struggle of our Brazilian brothers is also enormous, always protecting their lands to preserve their cultural identity and their sacred history. This motivates us to keep on fighting to keep our culture alive. This exchange strengthened us, as we learned that we have rights”, he says, while stressing the importance of the workshops. “We built the Indigenous Life Plan in two years; we want to continue this the dialogue and the articulations with the institutions and also with the Brazilian Government”.

The five meetings took place in the Taba Lascada Indigenous Community, in the formation center of the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Land and at Lake Caracaranã, with the purpose that people who had a Venezuelan origin could get to know the territories of indigenous peoples in Roraima.

In the Life Plan, participants strongly expressed the desire to have their children, adolescents and young people assisted by qualified public policies, such as adequate schools, specific and differentiated education, access to the health system and, possibly, an accessible job market that meets the specificities and diversities of these populations.

To carry out this initiative, UNICEF has a strategic partnership with the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).

Media contacts

Marco Prates
Communication/SBC in Emergencies
UNICEF Brazil
Tel: (61) 99695 0123

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