STORY: Brazil has approved about 6,000 humanitarian visas for Afghan refugees since late last year. But local authorities near Sao Paulo's Guarulhos airport said they had little idea there would be dozens of Afghans arriving daily this month.
Their numbers may continue to grow in the coming weeks, as an average of four direct flights arrive daily from the Middle East and South Asia. With travel surging to Qatar for the World Cup in November, airlines are adding more flights to the region.
The airport's refugee assistance agency estimated that some 130 Afghans were encamped at the airport's Terminal 2 as of Thursday (October 13). Efforts to house them have not kept up with the influx of new arrivals.
Federal prosecutors pressed the federal government this week for details of what it is doing to handle the growing number of refugees camped out at the airport, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
Brazil's Justice Ministry, which handles immigration issues, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The families and single men at the airport say they had no choice but to endure a chaotic year-long journey to Brazil in order to flee a Taliban regime that persecutes anyone with any association with the previous, Western-backed government.
"All these people you see here, their lives were at risk in Afghanistan," says Mohammad Aryobee, a human rights activist and civil engineer who arrived in Brazil on Tuesday (October 11) after fleeing from Afghanistan, he says, for having "secular ideals."
The Sao Paulo state government is working with municipal authorities and civil society to attend the refugees' basic needs.
"We are able to give them three meals, a blanket, vaccination," says Swany Zenobini, part of the "Afghan Front" collective that mobilized to help receive and accommodate of the refugees.