Region 1 Chairman pleads for more help with influx of Venezuelans

…as illegal activities in Coomacka Village rises

With Venezuelans continuously crossing the border, leading to an increase in their numbers in Region One (Barima-Waini), Regional Chairman Brethnol Ashley has expressed worry over the fact that the region lacks resources to cater for the individuals who are seeking refuge there.

Regional Chairman Brethnol Ashley addressing a number of stakeholders from Regions One and Four in relation to the Venezuelan migrant situation

In a document to this newspaper, the Chairman stressed on the lack of human resources, adding that shortages of drugs and other medical supplies continue to plague the region as a result of the high number of Venezuelans.
These matters were highlighted recently during a special meeting between Regional Executives. The meeting was attended by the Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region Four, Pauline Lucas and others. It was hosted with the intent of establishing a collaboration between the two regions to address the number of issues birthed as a result of the increased influx of Venezuelans.
“There continues to be shortage of drugs and medical supply as a result of the increased number of Venezuelans seeking medical and other attention,” the Chairman pointed out.
The Chairman told the visiting team that he would be thankful for any assistance while noting that officials in the region are faced with increased challenges and difficulties and support from Region Four’s health sector would be appreciated.

Heighten security
Ashley went further to call on Government to heighten security patrols at the country’s borders since a number of threats were recently made.
“He warned that the threats should be taken seriously by the country’s security forces declaring that his RDC (Regional Democratic Council) is very concerned with these threats expressing the view that he believes that the Venezuelans will act on those threats and as such, all stops should be pulled out in ensuring that Guyana can effectively defend itself. He said that Government and residents must recognise that because of Venezuela’s grave economic challenges, they are evidently desperate,” the statement reads.
“We have heard that there is a plan to hijack the ferry and this resulted in the ferry having to be escorted into here a few weeks ago because there were reports that the Sindicatos were planning an attack,” the Regional Chairman stressed.
He stressed that the number of migrants continues to increase while pointing out the need for a holistic response by the Government to alleviate a number of fears and concerns.

During the meeting, it was confirmed by the Chairman that some of the latest figures released have shown a steady increase in the migrant population. He said figures presented to him just before the meeting indicated that there continues to be an increase in the number of Venezuelan migrants, stressing that there is an urgent need for Government to take appropriate actions to lend valuable support while at the same time protecting the interests of Guyanese.
He revealed, “For White Water they are 640, in the community of Imberto there is 74, there is also a new community under the radar called Black Water Barima with 40, Khan Hill has 101, Kamwatta has 65 while Yarakita has 64 so the numbers tells its own story that indeed there is an increase,” Ashley said.

The Regional Chairman disclosed that a number of the Venezuelans are involved in the sale of illegal fuel which he said has compounded concerns from the business community within the Coomacka area.
Despite efforts to make the migrants comfortable with living quarters, Ashely complained that illegal activities continue to take place which he foresees causing major issues in the Coomacka community for not only the migrants but other villagers as well.
In addition, the Chairman said that there has also been a hike in the number of reported cases of persons being infected with various diseases, stressing that several residents have expressed these concerns in relation to diseases.
“I am saddled with having to hear families coming to me telling me that they are worried that their husbands may contract some of the diseases and infections. We are very concerned about the increase also of malaria with several villages indicating its prominence in the community, so frankly I am happy that we have another region coming on board so as to assist us in some way,” Ashley said.
He revealed that there are serious sanitation-related issues, pointing out that several residents have complained about the Venezuelan migrants defecating in and around the community. This, the Regional Chairman declared poses great challenges to several business owners who would see the migrants committing these acts openly. Further, he said that there are serious and grave health concerns as several of the migrants who are desperate for food have been seen raiding garbage bins.