Govt working to protect, integrate migrants into local workforce – Foreign Secretary

Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud
Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud

Noting that the Guyana Government takes the issue of migrants very seriously, Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud revealed that the current Administration is working to ensure migrants here are protected from xenophobia and are treated fairly, as they are integrated into the local workforce.

During an American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) panel discussion on Monday, Persaud spoke of the Government’s efforts to integrate migrants into the local workforce. According to him, it is important that xenophobic tendencies, which are prejudiced against foreigners, are rooted out.

“The reality is we’re already seeing an influx of migrants into the country. There’s no doubt that these migrants are now part of our labour force, working in many of the existing small and medium-sized businesses or seeking to start their own business ventures to support themselves and their families.”

“We’re therefore committed to examining how best to incorporate migrant labourers into our economy, ensure their humane treatment while simultaneously ensuring the well-being of our local population is not affected by any xenophobic tendencies,” the Foreign Secretary explained.

He noted that the Government has made efforts to track all migrants and to provide them with support. He also noted that humanitarian support has been extended to migrants who entered the country both through regular and irregular pathways.

“For instance, the Government of Guyana in responding to the unprecedented flow of Venezuelans and other migrants in the country has taken exemplary tests in applying best practices and providing much needed humanitarian support to those who have arrived through regular and irregular pathways.”

“It is in this context that Guyana is mindful of the importance of labour migration and its potential effect on economic growth. And in this regard, migrants are documented, provided assistance and even sources of employment. And I’m sure the Minister of Labour will expound on that.”

Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton, who also participated in the session, spoke of the efforts the Ministry has been making when it comes to employing migrants. He also referenced the Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency within the Labour Ministry.

“We have a department called the Central Recruitment and Manpower Agency, that deals with employer and employees and placing potential employees in companies. We are willing also to play our part there, to see how we can have migrants placed in work environments where they are protected.

It was only in February that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the International Organisation of Migration, launched a migration profile. The project aims is to centralise and analyse data on migration in Guyana, to better develop a migration policy.
It was reported in 2019 that Guyana, which shares a 3000-kilometre largely unpatrolled and unprotected border with Venezuela, has over 5000 documented Venezuelan migrants living in Guyana.

Many of them fled to Guyana with the economic crisis and hyperinflation that brought Venezuela to its knees. According to the United Nations in its “Global Humanitarian Response Plan COVID-19 United Nations Coordinated Appeal” released last year, more would have since crossed the border to escape the COVID-19 fallout in their own country.