Guyana strengthens immigration dept presence at Venezuela border; refugees receiving support

Last Updated on Monday, 16 July 2018, 20:49 by Denis Chabrol

The inter-agency meeting on the influx of Venezuelan refugees .

Guyana is increasing its immigration department presence near the border with Venezuela and providing material support to refugees who are fleeing from the political and economic crisis in that Spanish-speaking country.

Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix said that was one of the decisions taken at the first in a series of engagements on the influx of Venezuela“I can say for sure that during the course of this week we will be reinforcing the immigration department in Region One to deal with the irregular arrival of Venezuelans into Guyana,” Minister Felix said.

Representatives from the Ministries of Public Health, Social Protection, Communities, Citizenship, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and Civil Defense Commission (CDC)  who constitute a newly formed board, met for the first time today. The objective is to prepare a coordinated effort to give structure to the government’s response to the situation.

The minister added that the board is expecting an initial statistical report on the exact number of persons seeking refuge at Guyana’s border. He added that small villages like White Water in Barima-Waini have recorded the arrival of approximately 150 persons. A definite number on the recorded influx of Venezuelans is expected to be provided at the next meeting which is scheduled for Monday, July 23.

Meanwhile, the government says it is working to facilitate the refugees. Just recently, much-needed supplies including medicine, food supplies and camping equipment were sent to villages near the border shared with Venezuela.

“There is minimal (accommodation) arrangement in there because what has been happening is that Guyanese have been very accommodative but not all the Venezuelans are being housed. There are those that are sleeping outdoors so for those we have sent tarpaulins, hammocks, blankets, pillows, cots. So, we have sent in what we think is necessary to accommodate those who are in the open,” Minister Felix added.

The Felix -led team will meet for three additional Mondays where updates will be provided.