The number of refugees worldwide surpassed 16 millions of people in 2016. In Brazil, 9.552 people from 82 countries were recognized as refugees – 3.772 came from Syria – and the number of asylum seekers reached a peak of 28.670 in 2015. Brazil is much farther from conflict areas than Europe, but has opened its doors to those ones that lost everything and can no longer return to their homes.


Since 2012, thousands of refugees have been searching for a job, but many of them have been unable to perform the same tasks they used to do in their origin countries despite their qualifications to occupy positions as lawyers, architects, engineers. In order to give visibility to their skills and encourage Brazilian companies to hire refugees and asylum seekers, UNHCR in partnership with the advisory company EMDOC launched the campaign Invisible Talents. According to João Marques Fonseca, EMDOC´s president, the campaign came up in April, 2017 when it became self-evident the majority of refugees and asylum seekers were more qualified than the positions they were usually hired to work in Brazil.


At, companies can access their profiles and offer positions that meet their qualifications.


Currently, São Paulo is the state that most receive and hire refugees and asylum seekers. A great part of them has been working in the third sector. João Marques points out the reasons why refugees have faced difficulty in finding jobs that suits their qualifications:


“Some cultural differences and difficulty in recognizing their documents and experiences in the host country, coupled with the lack of knowledge on the part of employers regarding the refugee issue as a whole and the legal situation of refugees here in Brazil are obstacles to the professional relocation of these people”.


Since 2011, EMDOC has been working hard with UNHCR and the Reference Centre for Refugees at Caritas-SP to promote the integration of refugees and asylum seekers in the Brazilian labour market. The Refugees Relocation Support Program (PARR) has encouraged companies to hire refugees and it has also managed almost two thousand curriculums of refugees that are looking for a job in Brazil.


“We are always trying to discourage any preferential treatment or discrimination based on a particular nationality, religion, sexual orientation, political opinion… The difficulty lies in misinformation” – explains João Marques, the president of EMDOC, who believes 50 more refugees will be hired until the end of this year. According to João Marques, the best way to increase the number of refugees and asylum seekers hired in Brazil in positions in accordance with their qualifications is raising awareness of their skills among Brazilian companies in order to state clear that refugees can work as qualified employees, with diverse culture and methods that can bring innovative solutions and other gains to the companies, beyond the social responsibility issue itself:


“It is necessary to re-dimension an assistance vision for a more modern, value-added and long-term vision”.


By Beatriz Buarque