APA calls for increased humanitarian support to Warrau Venezuelan migrants in Guyana

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Some of the Venezuelan families in their canoes

See full statement from the APA:

The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) calls on the relevant authorities to provide increased humanitarian support to the Warrau migrants from Venezuela who continue to seek betterment in Guyana and address their needs as Indigenous Peoples with human rights.

Our call follows the recent influx of migrants experienced by the Region 2 community of Kabakaburi and their forced relocation that followed just days after, even though the indigenous community began to support and have since indicated their willingness to support them.

The migrants reportedly paddled for 8 to 10 days before arriving in Kabakaburi, where it was evident that they lacked food, clothing, and in some cases, medical attention.

Their decision to undertake such a lengthy and dangerous journey speaks to the desperation of people whose lives are severely impacted by the ongoing economic crisis in Venezuela and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The APA understands that the camp in Khan Hill, Mabaruma District, where these Warraus families have settled, has become overwhelmed. As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, such living conditions will only increase the likelihood of disease transmissions among the population, including COVID-19.

Several of the migrants who were relocated remain in contact with residents of Kabakaburi. These migrants continue to call, begging to return for an opportunity to improve their living conditions.

As an Indigenous rights-based organisation, we believe that Indigenous Peoples seeking refuge in Guyana from the ongoing crisis in Venezuela must be given support specific to their needs. Better coordination is needed to include short, medium and long term responses. Guyana has a commitment under international conventions to provide humanitarian support.

Additionally, where village councils or villages extend their humanitarian arm, the government should support them. There are pregnant women, children and the elderly who are all caught in this crisis. As a nation, Guyana must ensure that relevant and effective support is provided to all who are seeking it and to all who are lending support.

It should be not lost that the Warraus are part of the demographics of Guyana and Venezuela and that only an international boundary separates the families. They have also contributed significantly to Guyana’s rich cultural and historical heritage including the shell mounds found in North-western Guyana, the origins of the canoe in Haimaracabra, Moruca and the planting of cassava in the Aruka River basin. These brothers and sisters are at home. They ought to be treated with dignity.