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09/07/2017 - 07:00hs

University to have Chair on refugees

The State University of Campinas is working to implement the UNHCR’s Sérgio Vieira de Mello Chair. The goal is to encourage knowledge production and debate on the subject, and to help inform public policies.

São Paulo – The State University of Campinas (Unicamp) is working to put in place a Chair focusing on asylum, as part of the Sérgio Vieira de Mello Chair, an initiative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which already relies on 16 Brazilian universities as members.

Antoninho Perri/Ascom/Unicamp

Baeninger: providing input to public policymaking

Unicamp is expected to enter into an agreement with the UNHCR to establish the Chair next August. The information was supplied by the president of the work group for the Chair at the university, Rosana Baeninger. She leads the team that’s drafting an action plan to be submitted to the UNHCR for approval in July.

The team at Unicamp is a multidisciplinary workgroup linked to the dean’s office. It also comprises personnel from local and regional government bodies – Agência Metropolitana de Campinas, a state-level agency, and the Municipal Secretariat for Special Needs Persons’ Rights and Citizenship. The plan is to have the Chair provide input for public policymaking.

The Chair is intended to foster discussion and production of knowledge on refugees. Baeninger explains that in addition to doing work within the university, the workgroup will also engage directly with refugees and work to connect them with the broader society.

The action plan for the Chair is in the works, but it should include Portuguese lessons and workshops for refugees, the addition of international migration-related subjects to the university’s curriculum, encouragement to lectures and seminars on immigrants and refugees, and encouragement to scientific studies and knowledge production.

The workgroup’s president holds master’s and doctorate degrees in Social Science from Unicamp, and a PhD from the University of California. She is currently a professor at the University of Campinas, a coordinator and researcher at the Population Studies Center, the secretary-general to the Brazilian Association for Population Studies, and the coordinator of the Migration Observatory in São Paulo, among other activities.

The UNHCR Chair’s name is an homage to Brazil’s Sérgio Vieira de Mello, a former United Nations staff member and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. He was killed in a terrorist attack in Iraq, 2003.

The group’s first effort will be the photo exhibit Somos Todos Imigrantes (We’re all immigrants), opening on July 3 at Unicamp’s Central Library. The photographs portray refugees catered to by the Catholic Church’s Mission Peace (Missão Paz). The showing will continue until July 31, from Monday to Friday, 7:30 am to 10:30 pm. Admission is free.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum

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