Venezuelan migration in Northern Brazil: a system dynamics approach for the internalization program

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2023-01-01

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Purpose: This paper aims to present the internalization process by which Venezuelan migrants and refugees are resettled. Using system dynamics, the authors model a Brazilian humanitarian operation (“Acolhida” – Welcome), simulate the internalization process, propose policies and provide lessons learned for future migratory operations. Design/methodology/approach: Using system dynamics simulation, the authors use Acolhida Operation’s historical data to recreate the reception and resettlement process of Venezuelan migrants and refugees. The authors identify the main bottlenecks in the system and propose policies to respond to scenarios according to the number of internalization vacancies, that is, available places in Brazil where migrants and refugees can be resettled. Finally, based on interviews with former decision-makers, the model represents a first attempt to convert the pressure of public opinion on authorities into temporary shelters as a way of reducing the number of unassisted people. Findings: The results confirm that internalization vacancies are the main constraint when resettling Venezuelan migrants and refugees. Had the internalization program been promoted since the operation’s beginning, there would have been fewer unassisted people in Roraima and fewer shelters. The pressure-converting mechanism presented in this study, although incipient, constitutes a first attempt to support decision-makers in determining when to build temporary shelters. Practical implications: This study can be useful to public authorities and humanitarian organizations when developing policies to enhance resettlement in migratory crises. In Acolhida’s case, the internalization program should continue to be the operation’s priority and can be enhanced by investing more resources to create internalization vacancies while maintaining logistical capacities. Social implications: The authors suggest policies to improve the Acolhida internalization program: give more people the choice to relocate in other cities, increase turnover in shelters and provide a more efficient and effective response to Venezuelan migration in Roraima. Originality/value: Although a number of studies have applied system dynamics to humanitarian operations, few models have focused on migratory emergencies, such as those occurring in northern Brazil. The model is applied to the largest humanitarian operation carried out in the Brazilian territory and provides decision-makers with valuable insights and alternatives for better implementation in the future. Furthermore, this study narrows the gap between the social sciences and modeling and simulation techniques by proposing ways of predicting migratory implications in the construction of shelters and resettlement policies.

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Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management.

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