There are a total of 2,588 documented Venezuelan migrants in Guyana and the Ministry of the Presidency has said that the government is working to support them.
The figure was released yesterday by the ministry, which said in a statement that the National Multi-Sectoral Coordinating Committee, which was established by President David Granger, has used the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) to reach out to a significant number of the migrants, particularly those living in shelters in Region One, and provided essential food and non-food items.
The statement said the Committee’s efforts have been supported by various government agencies as well as international partners, such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Inter-national Organisation for Migration (IOM), Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Although there has been a reduction in arrivals at the various ports of entry in recent weeks, the ministry disclosed that it was announced at the most recent meeting of the committee that as government works with its international partners to support the migrants, the Ministry of Social Protection will be training a group of officers from the departments of Citizenship and Immigration to prevent human trafficking.
These officers, it explained, will lead an intense sensitisation campaign geared at removing vulnerable individuals from exploitative situations.
The statement said that since its establishment, the Committee has been working tirelessly to ensure that Venezuelan migrants are properly documented, vaccinated and provided for in terms of food and shelter.
In noted that in addition to providing this type of support, last month, the Foreign Affairs Ministry announced that more lenient immigration policies and measures will be instituted to ensure that persons, who have come to Guyana to escape harsh economic and political conditions in their homeland, are not deported for illegal entry or overstaying.
Meanwhile, efforts are also being made to facilitate more long-term support, the ministry said. Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix was reported as saying that a policy will now have to be put in place to assess the proportionality of the qualifications and skills of the Venezuelan migrants to that of Guyanese to see how they can be placed in the local job market. “This again, will ensure that their labour is not exploited and that Guyanese are not treated unfairly,” the statement explained.
“Last week, during a visit to the Pomeroon-Supenaam (Region Two), Minister Felix, after hearing of the challenges that migrants on the Essequibo Coast are facing, pledged his Department’s support, particularly as it relates to documentation, since many of them cannot afford to travel to Georgetown,” it added, while noting that he also addressed Cabinet yesterday on the need for systems to be put in place to deal with housing and education for migrants.