Food aid still being sought for Venezuelan migrants in Region 1

Brentnol Ashley

The supply of food continues to be an issue for Venezuelans of Warrau descent who migrated to the Mabaruma Sub-district earlier this year.

Speaking with Stabroek News yesterday, Regional Chairman Brentnol Ashley said both Central Government and the Civil Defence Commission were notified about the lack of food supplies over the past two months; however, he is yet to receive a response.

Meanwhile, Ashley said the RDC has received some assistance from Food for the Poor and the Catholic Church, the latter of which has been providing lunch for the migrants on specific days.

Notwithstanding, there are instances where some migrants are seen rummaging through garbage bins in the commercial area looking for food.

Residents of Khan Hill, where a large number of migrants have been staying, have also expressed concern about the risk of contamination of the single pond within the community.

Just recently, the CDC in a Facebook post said that work continues to provide the necessary food supplies and nonfood items to the Venezuelan migrants in both Regions One and Seven. It was stated that just last week, the agency collaborated with the International Organisation for Migration to distribute a total of 110 family-sized hampers to families in Region Seven.

It was also revealed that similar hampers were being acquired for those in Region One, while the CDC with support from the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force and the Immigration Department, is continuing to monitor and map the influx across the country.

Regarding the arrival of migrants in recent times, Ashley said though persons continue to cross the border into Mabaruma, the numbers have slowed.

However, with the recent passage of the 2019 budget, the Chairman expressed his belief that more monies could have been allocated to the Region to support its accommodation of the migrants, particularly since they have exhausted resources from this year’s budget.

Ashley said that though they had budgeted for $55 million, the sum was reduced to $42 million without any explanation.

He added that though they are thankful for the infrastructure investments that will be made in the Region through the 2019 budget, he does not feel as though the Government is taking the presence and continuing arrival of Venezuelan migrants as seriously as they should, which, according to him, is reflected in the lack of support that the Region receives.

At the beginning of July, 100 Venezuelan migrants of Warrau descent had arrived in the Mabaruma sub-district, prompting Ashley, using his personal Facebook page, to solicit, on behalf of the Regional Disaster Relief Committee, “urgent assistance” to provide clothing, food and other supplies for the Venezuelans.

This number has since grown to include at least 1000 migrants who are being accommodated in several indigenous villages in the sub region including Khan Hill, White Water, Kamwatta, and Ganja Landing, among others.

Ashley told Stabroek News that the Venezuelans, who are mostly of the Warrau nation, would have previously occupied land along the Orinoco and Amacuro rivers and travelled to Guyana to escape the harsh economic situation facing Venezuela.

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