CORRECTED-FEATURE-Syrian refugees welcomed in recession-hit Brazil but face tough times

viernes 22 de julio de 2016 11:17 GYT

(Corrects 17th para to clarify Brazil negotiating not signed a deal with EU)

By Sophie Davies

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 15 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When Hanan Dacka fled the civil war in Syria with her family to start a new life in Brazil, the idea that she might one day carry the Olympic torch was beyond the stretch of anyone's imagination.

At first, she struggled to settle into school, not knowing how to speak Portuguese. Her family lived, and still lives, in a cramped one-bedroom apartment in São Paulo. Her brother works seven days a week in a shop.

Yet the 12-year-old girl ran with the Olympic flame in Brasilia in May, the first day of its journey through more than 300 towns and cities. The Summer Olympic Games begin on Aug. 5 in Rio de Janeiro.

She was chosen by the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee after her name was put forward by the U.N. refugee agency in Brazil.

Her high-profile Olympics role put a spotlight on the lives of refugees who have settled in Brazil, which is deep in the throes of recession.

Brazil's economy is expected to contract nearly 4 percent this year, for a second consecutive year. Economists' forecasts suggest a downturn of a magnitude not seen since Brazil began keeping records in 1901.

Refugees like the Dacka family are finding it hard to land permanent jobs and get state support to settle in.   Continuación...