Refugees shine in Rio’s Carnival Parade
When it comes to Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, the whole world thinks of one place: the Sambadrome at Sapucaí Avenue. The venue is the place where the samba schools parade competitively and their performances bring attention to different themes, attracting thousands of Brazilians and tourists each year.
In 2022, 20 refugees from Angola, Morocco, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, and Venezuela were among Salgueiro’s Samba School performers, shining in the avenue with their costumes and drumming at the Sambadrome.
Salgueiro’s 2022 theme was the resistance and resilience of afro-Brazilians, including the fight against racism and the inclusion and non-discrimination of black people. With the participation of refugees in the parade, Salgueiro not only promoted their integration into the Brazilian society, but also conveyed a message of solidarity and inclusion which resonated in the Carnival Parade.
Refugees’ participation was made possible as UNHCR and Salgueiro entered a partnership aiming at raising awareness, promoting a more welcoming and inclusive society, and contributing to refugee integration in Brazil. The parade not only showed the adaptability of refugees – Rio’s parade is taken seriously, as the schools are judged through a series of technical criteria, so participants commit to attend regular rehearsals to learn how to sing the school’s music and how to dance samba – but also helped to bring them closer to their new country and its traditions.
Currently, Brazil hosts more than 60,000 recognized refugees from some 80 different nationalities. Jose Egas,
UNHCR’s representative in Brazil, acknowledged how ©UNHCR / Ruben Salgado Refugees shine in Rio’s Carnival Parade “Brazil is made up of a mixture of races and cultures.
And refugee people want to start over, contribute, and feel included in society. Their participation in the Salgueiro parade represents this integration and shows that we should not leave anyone behind”.
One of the refugees parading was Ingrid Bucan, a 47-yearold Venezuelan hairdresser. She said the parade confirmed the warm feelings she has for Brazil. She arrived in 2020 with her husband, children and four grandchildren, and received assistance, including Portuguese classes and psychosocial support, to integrate in her new country.
She and her family are among the more than 74,000 Venezuelans who have been so far relocated from Roraima and Amazonas to other parts of the country as part of the Operation Welcome’s internal relocation strategy.