Home News Crisis looms if influx of Venezuelan migrants continues – Ramjattan
Guyana is continuing to provide refuge to Venezuelan migrants coming here, and while there is an obligation to render assistance to those affected citizens from the neighbouring country, it can lead to a crisis situation in Guyana.
This is according to Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, who recently told the media that if the number of Venezuelans becomes too high, then there are challenges which will occur.
“We have seen a number of Venezuelans coming in, but our policy is that once they identify themselves with certain identification documents, they can stay in Guyana for a period of six months. We know that that can lead to if it gets very extensive, and the population of them increasing exponentially, we are going to be in crisis. Because we won’t have the necessary health services to provide them nor the necessary services of water and probably housing,” he explained.
According to Ramjattan, any Venezuelan entering Guyana seeking aid needs to be properly identified and registered and the Government of Guyana has already sought assistance from the United Nations and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). These two agencies are helping Guyana to cater for the Venezuelan migrants.
Moreover, Minister Ramjattan added that Government was trying to secure land in the interior regions so that these locations could be prepared to facilitate the Venezuelans and cater for their needs.
Last month, newly-appointed US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch said there were no direct bilateral arrangements between Guyana and the US for aiding the Venezuelans who were fleeing their homeland.
Nevertheless, she said, if approached by the Guyana Government, she was willing to explore the options available.
In fact, Ambassador Lynch noted that she even indicated this during her engagements with the various Government officials.
In March last, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) provided some US$1.6 million to Trinidad and Tobago to assist with Venezuelans moving there.
Thus far in Guyana, there are over 5800 Venezuelan migrants – double the number recorded six months ago – and this number is expected to increase daily.
On this note, Ambassador Lynch noted that while the situation was not a “serious concern” to the Guyana Government as yet, it may soon become so owing to the heightened influx of migrants from the neighbouring Spanish-speaking country.
“In the past, the majority of Venezuelans have been on the border. But a few weeks ago, there was a vessel with about 140 Venezuelans that came right into Georgetown. So that is an indicator that maybe things are worsening a little bit,” she noted, while recently she met a Venezuelan working in a restaurant in Berbice, which is quite a long way from the border.