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Venezuelan Warraus not facing starvation – Human Services Minister but PM’s Office says they arrived in “poor health and without food”

Last Updated on Sunday, 21 November 2021, 9:20 by Denis Chabrol

Dr. Vindhya Persaud and Dr. Frank Anthony during a medical outreach at Anabisi, Port Kaituma River

Human Services Minister Dr. Vindhya Persaud has denied claims that more than 20 children at Anabisi are weak, sick and frail due to starvation, but has instead said they have been afflicted by disease.

“We arrived at the Warrau settlement and found poor living conditions but no children dying of starvation as was portrayed by the media and on social media,” she said on her Facebook Page.  Her account is in contrast to the  Office of the Prime Minister which stated  that dozens of  Amerindians arrived from neighbouring Venezuela in “poor health and without food.”

Dr. Persaud said Paediatrician Dr. Samaroo who speaks Spanish and a female who speaks Spanish and Warrau, communicated with the families. “He and I examined many of the children and found cases of impetigo -skin rashes / infection- diarrheal diseases, conjunctivitis ( pink eye ), cough and cold for which medications were provided.,” said Dr. Persaud who is a medical doctor.

She said four  children with skin conditions along with a new-born with fever were referred to the Port Kaituma Hospital for further attention. “No child was critical, starving or an emergency case,” she said.

The non-governmental organisation, Blossom Inc;  has said that one child has died, one has been transferred to the Georgetown Public Hospital C0rporation and one admitted to the Port Kaituma Hospital.

The Warraus residing on the edge of the Port Kaituma River at Anabisi.

A representative of Blossom did not immediately respond to follow-up calls.

Government said that relief supplies are being provided for more than one year now to Venezuelan migrants , and hinted that the group of Warraus recently arrived from neighbouring Venezuela in a sickened condition.

A Blossom representative had informed several top government officials last week about the plight of the children. The high-level ministerial and medical outreach was conducted on Saturday.

Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony was quoted by DPI as saying that a number of children has received medical attention on Saturday and another outreach would be conducted on Sunday. “There are about 50 children in the community. We examined those who need medical attention and gave treatment. Four children and their mother were taken to Port Kaituma for further treatment. A medical team will do another outreach tomorrow (Sunday),”  said Dr. Anthony, also a medical doctor.

The outreach was conducted by doctors of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

In apparent reaction to claims that government officials were slow to respond to the reports of emaciated children at Anabisi, the Minister of Human Service said government responded immediately. “From the moment we were informed, a regional response was deployed to assess the health conditions and take in food hampers. I will continue , along with my colleagues to monitor the situation as we are all deeply concerned about their conditions,” she said.

The residents at Anabisi were also reportedly provided with multivitamins and safe water implements during Saturday’s outreach.

The Office of the Prime Minister stated that the “government remained committed to the humane management of the migrant situation stemming from the economic and social instability in neighboring Venezuela, with the active support of local stakeholders, as well as international partners.”