Guyana creates “homestead” for Venezuelans

Last Updated on Thursday, 2 August 2018, 14:09 by Denis Chabrol

Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Winston Felix.

The Guyana government on Monday announced that plans were being made to establish a homestead settlement area for the 260 confirmed Venezuelans, who are occupying areas in Barima-Waini (Region One).

Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix made the announcement after the third multi-agency coordinating committee meeting held at the Ministry of Citizenship, Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Georgetown.

Minister Felix said that the resettlement area will allow the Venezuelans to be self-reliant

“It is intended that we [will] develop something like a homestead where families are accumulated and eventually we can move them into cash crop farming. We can encourage that so that in the first instance they can feed themselves and if they have surpluses they can sell. We are looking at crops for their sustenance and their immediate needs. Once you get that…going then the next thing is to guide them into areas in which they can sustain themselves. The immediate outcome is that we want to see them properly settled and they must be able to sustain themselves…,” he was quoted as saying by government’s Department of Public Information.

He noted that the agencies on the committee will continue to play their roles in lending whatever assistance is necessary to those in Region One while assessing the migration of Venezuelans into Cuyuni-Mazaruni (Region Seven).

“In the meantime, the Ministry of Health is continuing its vaccination [efforts]… [The Department of] Immigration is continuing the registration and support work… The Police [are] also following through with the support work to this committee. So, all agencies, locally, are locked into this committee to provide services and support for the Venezuelans in Guyana. We are also exploring the situation in Region Seven [in order] to find out where [the Venezuelans] are and what numbers we have to [cater for],” he said.

The Committee has also been working alongside the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to determine areas of collaboration and support.

Rather than criminalise the Venezuelans, Minister Felix said that the Committee and by extension, the Government, have chosen to respond to the situation in a humane manner, with concern for the safety, health, and accommodation of the migrants.

Monday’s meeting included United Nations Resident Coordinator, Ms. Mikiko Tanaka, and other representatives from UNICEF, IOM, Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Social Protection, among others.