Residents of Rio de Janeiro are fleeing as rates of lethal violence are increasing, and citizen-led efforts to help people stay out of the crossfire do not address the heart of the problem.
Rio de Janeiro’s lethal violence rate, which includes murder, robbery, personal injury followed by death, and homicide due to police intervention, increased by 16.4 percent during the first six months of 2017, according to Brazil’s Institute of Public Security Institute of Public Security (Instituto de Segurança Pública – ISP).
Between January and May of 2016, 2,528 cases of lethal violence were opened in the city, accounting for 16 deaths per day. During that same time period in 2017, 2,942 cases were opened, accounting for 19 deaths per day.
As rates of lethal violence have increased, Rio’s residents have started to flee the city, Estadão reported.
After being robbed at the door of her home in northern Rio de Janeiro while pregnant, Natalia Mello told Estadão that she had decided that she “did not want to raise my daughter in that desperate situation.”
And after hearing of children shot at home, school, or, in one horrible case, a mother’s womb, Beatriz Bihari left for Cabo Frio, two hours east of Rio.
“I can not help thinking that they [the victims] could be my daughters,” she told Estadão.
InSight Crime Analysis
In an effort to improve security in Rio de Janeiro, security applications have been introduced. Ahead of the 2016 Olympics, Amnesty International launched the Crossfire application to help document firearm use in the city. More recently, the citizen-created Where There Is a Shootout app was launched to notify Rio’s citizens in real time of where shootings are occurring in the city to help reduce their risk of being caught in the crossfire.
However, these efforts can do little to address the core issues that lead to violence like the availability of firearms. Of all the homicides committed in the country in 2015, 41,817 were committed with a firearm, accounting for more than two-thirds (71.9 percent) of all homicides, according to a recent report from the Institute of Applied Economic Research (Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada – IPEA).
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This increase in lethal violence is most evident in Rio de Janeiro state. Between January 1 and June 30, at least 1 shooting and 14 gunshot alerts were recorded per day, according to data analyzed by G1 Globo.