Brazil, Venezuela to welcome Syrian refugees amid European crisis

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |  Sept. 8, 2015 at 9:04 AM
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CARACAS, Venezuela, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Brazil and Venezuela are joining the international community in welcoming Syrian refugees amid a migrant crisis that has gripped Europe.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said her country will welcome refugees, mostly from Syria, with "open arms."

During a video address celebrating Brazilian Independence Day on Monday, Rousseff said she wanted to "reiterate the government's willingness to welcome those who, driven from their homeland, want to come live, work and contribute to the prosperity and peace of Brazil," adding that "especially in these difficult times, these times of crisis, we have to welcome refugees with open arms."

Brazil is currently in an economic recession and dealing with a political crisis surrounding Rousseff, who is blamed for corruption as the Petrobras bribery scandal continues.

Rousseff headed Petrobras, a semi-public oil and gas company, as apparent briberies took place. She was exonerated by authorities, but senior members of her government have been charged.

In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro also said on Monday the government intends to welcome 20,000 Syrian refugees.

"How many more Arabs must die to awaken human conscience of peace?" Maduro asked in a televised cabinet meeting at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas. "I have ordered the political vice president, Chancellor Delcy Rodríguez, to meet with the Syrian community and Venezuela will host 20,000 Syrian compatriots in the diaspora."

Brazil and Venezuela join Uruguay and Argentina as South American countries that are welcoming Syrian refugees who are escaping civil war, where nearly 200,000 people have died and more than 4 million have been displaced.

"I want 20,000 Syrians to come -- Syrian families to our Venezuelan homeland to share this land of peace... to work with us and to contribute with their love song to God and to contribute to the development of this magical land," Maduro added.

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