São Paulo

São Paulo inaugurates shelter for migrants

The state of São Paulo has inaugurated a new shelter for migrants in the capital’s metropolitan region. Consequently, there are currently no Afghan citizens camped out at Guarulhos International Airport in São Paulo.

The Casa do Migrante Terra Nova III was officially inaugurated on Thursday morning (Apr. 4), although it has been operational for over two weeks, as reported by the São Paulo state government.

Some Afghans who were still camping at Guarulhos International Airport and awaiting shelter were relocated there.

“There’s no one left [at the airport],” stated Fábio Cavalcante, Guarulhos’ Secretary for Development and Social Assistance, in an interview with Agência Brasil. “Now we’re able to guide the migrants to a new space, which for us is truly a dream,” he added.

Since 2021, when Taliban radicals seized power in Afghanistan, millions of people have fled the country, escaping a regime marked by human rights violations. Brazil emerged as a destination for Afghans and other nationals following the government’s decision in September 2021 to issue temporary visas and residence permits for humanitarian reasons. Consequently, Afghans began arriving at Cumbica Airport in Guarulhos.

According to Cavalcante, over the past two years, approximately 6,000 migrants have passed through the Advanced Humanized Migrant Assistance Unit, situated in Terminal 2 of the airport. Of this total, around 90 percent were Afghans.

“In these two years of work developed with the São Paulo network, supported by the federal government, we have succeeded in establishing a reception network that led to the inauguration of the new facility, enabling us to clear the demand that was waiting at the airport. The new immigrants have been directly sent to the new shelter,” stated Maria Beatriz Nogueira, head of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

According to Gilberto Nascimento, the São Paulo state secretary for Social Development, most Afghans who arrive in Brazil do not stay in the country; they are headed for Europe and the United States. If the influx of arrivals unexpectedly rises, a new adjustment will need to be made.

“It’s evident that in the event of a major problem, such as a large-scale war leading to an increased flow of migrants, these partnerships provide us with the possibility of establishing new facilities much more rapidly,” he explained.


The total investment in the Casa do Migrante amounted to BRL 5 million per year, with BRL 3.8 million sourced from the state government and BRL 1.2 million from the federal government. Referrals are processed through the Advanced Humanized Migrant Assistance Unit located at Guarulhos International Airport.

The new facility will not only cater to Afghans but also provide a protection service for situations of public calamity and emergencies, accommodating migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, as well as foreigners and nationals. The duration of stay is up to three months and may be extended based on individual circumstances.

According to the State Secretariat for Social Development, there are also two halfway houses for migrants, refugees, and victims of human trafficking, as well as eight hostels, providing approximately 200 rotating places. With the inauguration of Casa do Migrante Terra Nova III, the number of shelters offered by the São Paulo government increases to 350.


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