Security, health risks at Guyana’s borders worrisome – Minister

Guyana has been faced with a number of challenges as a result of the recent influx of Venezuelans crossing the countries’ borders. This is according to Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan who on Tuesday said he was particularly concerned about the health and security risks associated with these persons entering the country.
Ramjattan made the disclosure at an event hosted at the Ramada Princess Hotel, East Bank Demerara.
“At our borders with Venezuela, which is an extremely long border, we are having our challenges there in relation to matters of health and security issues and in every way this could have been avoided in a sense if we had gotten the correct things happening in Venezuela as it is,” he stated.
He added that despite these challenges, Guyana is still obligated to ensure the heath needs of those persons are met.
The Minister added that even if it means stretching the health resources to provide services for those underprivileged persons, Guyana would have to ensure it exhausts efforts in keeping with humanitarian agreements it signed on to among others.
This was especially important to prevent illnesses from entering Guyana, he added.
Over the past year there has been a rapid increase in the number of Venezuelans fleeing their homeland as a result of the economic crisis there.
Only two weeks ago the number of legal Venezuelan migrants in Guyana stood at 5123 with most of them being housed in Region One (Barima-Waini).
Last week, Government had announced that members of the Community Policing Groups will be increasing their presence at bordering villages in an attempt to ramp up security in those far-flung locations.
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud has said the inflow of Venezuelan migrants into Guyana has resulted in amplified initiatives by the Public Health Ministry to expand its vaccine programme, to reduce the possibility of a disease epidemic.
Recently, Indigenous leaders from hinterland communities called for increased security in border communities, since the arrival of the Venezuelans has been affecting their villages. The issues surround cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and surges in criminal activities.
Arau Village representative, Devroy Thomas had related while the village leaders understand the need to lend support, the issue has become very complicated, since these migrants are bringing with them bad practices which could corrupt the villages.
Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge had stated that the possibility of these persons being diagnosed with diseases posed a danger to the general public.