Over 100 Venezuelans raid Pomeroon farm in bid to find food

Some of the Venezuelan families in their canoes

Over one hundred Venezuelans of the Warao tribe, including children who were living in the vicinity of Arpiaco, Upper Pomeroon, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), were escorted out of the region following reports of illegal occupation and alleged vandalism.

The Venezuelans reportedly arrived in the region via several canoes sometime last week, and settled in the Pomeroon area. However, this publication was told that while some 125 Venezuelans were paddling up the Pomeroon River, they made stops and raided several farmlands in order to gather provisions and vegetables to prepare meals.

A farmer whose farm was raided by the group said his entire farmland was stormed, and all of his fruits and vegetables reaped.

“When I entered my farmland, I noticed that something looked different. My watermelons were missing and a few were burst up and eat up…These people went into my farm and picked my ochro, pumpkin, pull out my cassava, and went away with a few bunch plantain also,” the farmer said.

Additionally, Karawab Toshao Monti Simon said he noticed that the group of Spanish-speaking nationals constructed camps in the area, and as such, he instructed them to clear and occupy a piece of land located in Arpiaco area, Upper Pomeroon River, not too distant from Karawab.

However, Regional Chairperson Vilma De Silva has said she was told of the incident, and rendered immediate assistance. She noted that a number of food hampers were distributed to the Venezuelans to cook and provide meals for their families. She also added that measures were put in place to ensure that the refugees remain spacious, owing to health concerns.

“During the distribution of hampers, we managed to communicate with a few of them, because some speak Spanish while some speak Warao language. We understand that they paddled all the way from Region One to settle in Pomeroon… They also told us that more families are on their way coming, and we got scared because it seemed as though we are going to have an influx of migrants,” De Silva told this publication.

Meanwhile, Police Regional Commander Denise Griffith has said that Police became aware of the situation when a farmer reported that persons were raiding his farm. Members of the Joint Service visited the area and began escorting the refugees to the Charity Wharf via boats, and from Charity they were sent back to Region One (Barima-Waini) via plane.

The Government of Guyana had reiterated several times that it remains mindful of its humanitarian obligations to migrants, and has been actively engaged in sustained efforts to deliver food and medical relief across the regions where migration into Guyana is taking place.

It has also, on several occasions, reassured of its commitment to humane management of the migrant situation stemming from the economic and social instability in neighbouring Venezuela, with the active support of local stakeholders as well as international partners.