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Govt wants GYD$4.8 million for relief to Venezuelan migrants

Venezuelan migrants at Khan’s Hill receiving supplies from Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Winston Felix and Region 1 (Barima-Waini) Chairman, Brentnol Ashley.

The Guyana government is seeking GYD$4.8 million to help support Venezuelans who have sought refuge here from the political and economic meltdown in their homeland.

According to a financial paper tabled in the National Assembly on Thursday at the first session following the two-month annual parliamentary recess, the Ministry of Finance wants the money, equivalent to US$22,535, to provide relief supplies to Venezuelan migrants in Regions 1 (Barima-Waini), 7 (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), 8 (Potaro-Siparuni) and 9 (Upper Essequibo-Upper Takatu).

In his address to the Parliament at the commencement of the new session, President David Granger said the crisis in Venezuela has “created challenges for our small state and has led to an estimated 2,500 Venezuelan migrants seeking refuge, mainly in our frontier communities”, but he committed that Guyana would continue to assist them.

“Your government will provide, within its means, humanitarian assistance, including food and medical treatment and temporary settlement to these migrants,” he said.

The Guyanese leader highlighted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs collaborated with the Department of Citizenship and the Ministry of Public Security on the development of new procedures, allowing Venezuelan migrants, including undocumented migrants entering Guyana, to be registered and issued with a three-month permit of stay which could be further extended.

The United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Commission for Refugees and the International Organisation for Migration have been contributing to the upkeep of the migrants who are mostly Indigenous Indians.

The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and an inter-agency committee have reached out to a significant number of them, particularly those living in shelters in Region One; providing essential food and non-food items.

The Venezuelan political crisis has in recent years worsened due to the slump in oil prices combined with hyperinflation, leaving millions of ordinary people to resort to animal medicines and little or no food. Millions of refugees have strewn across the borders to Colombia, Brazil, and Trinidad and Tobago.