More Venezuelans seeking refuge in Region One – Chairman

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Venezuelans seeking refuge in Region One

…says over 500 refugees recorded

As Government continues to contemplate and implement measures to deal with the influx of Venezuelans fleeing to Guyana from political and economic turmoil in their homeland, the porous nature of this country’s borders remains of much concern, as communities in Region 1 (Barima-Waini) are seeing numbers of around 500 refugees.

This estimation was given by Region One Chairman Brentnol Ashley, who on Saturday again called on Government and donor agencies to provide more assistance to the refugees.

In an interview with this Online Publication, Ashley pointed out that the refugees are continuing to put a strain on the region’s medical resources.

“We would have estimated close to 500 persons,” he said, speaking on the Venezuelan influx on the border.

According to information provided, there are over 30 persons living in the Yarakita community, while over 55 foreigners have taken up boarding at Kaneville. It was also noted that Whitewater recorded the most significant set of settlers with 236, while another community, Kamwatta, had over 60. Only days ago, Government noted that the 260 confirmed Venezuelan refugees are occupying areas in Region One.

Ashley said on Saturday that immigration officers have been accompanying the team visiting the various communities to confirm just how many Venezuelans have actually taken up residence here. This should clear up the anomalies. At the same time, he highlighted that there is “a grave need for food supplies”, since the final hampers from general donations from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) were distributed on Saturday.

INews understands that the last set of supplies were sent to the Yarakita community, while Ashley noted that Whitewater has not as yet received any supplies from the CDC or IOM. He pointed out that from a regional level, Region One has been trying to assist, but resources to provide for the 236 persons are not sufficient.

“I was speaking with the Toshao and Councillors, and they were calling on us to help to assist more. Besides assisting these new persons, they already have their village population to take care of as well,” Ashley explained.

In light of all of these concerns, Ashley said, he is looking forward to being visited by Citizenship Minister Winston Felix and a CDC team, to address the growing numbers of persons now resident in the community from the Spanish-speaking nation. Ashley stressed that refugees need not only food supplies, but food and clothing as well.

Following conclusion of the third multi-agency coordinating committee meeting held at the Ministry of Citizenship, the subject minister had observed that the resettlement area would be self-reliant, so that the families can enter ventures such as cash crop farming and they can sell their surplus.

Many in the area have expressed concerns for the safety, health, and accommodation of the migrants, and of the locals who live around them. It was reported last month that the refugees were undergoing health screening, as several were found to have malaria; there are signs and symptoms of tuberculosis, and some were reportedly HIV positive.

Venezuelan nationals were crossing into Guyana, especially at Region One, to seek medical treatment for malaria.

Ashley previously noted that the Region’s 2018 Budget currently does not have funds to provide for these refugees, but agencies such as Food for the Poor, the CDC, and other good Samaritans have provided limited clothing and food items to the refugees. Many of them are from the Warrau tribe, and many reside along the border with Guyana.

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