US ready to help Guyana with aid for Venezuelan migrants

While there has been no formal request from the Guyana Government for funding, the United States (US) stands ready to provide aid to help with the influx of Venezuelan migrants here.
Currently, Guyana is benefiting from US funding through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the International Organisation for Migrant (IOM) to facilitate the thousands of Venezuelans fleeing their homeland.

US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch

However, according to newly appointed US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, there is no direct bilateral arrangements between Guyana and the US for such aids.
Nevertheless, she said, if approached by the Guyana Government, she is willing to explore the options available. In fact, Ambassador Lynch noted that she even indicated this during her engagements with the various Government officials.
“There has not been a request for (bi-lateral assistance) as yet but I have had some conversations with the Government… What I have offered is that I am happy to have the embassy explore this issue and have additional conversations if they would like assistance,” the US diplomat said during a recent interview with a group of local journalists earlier this week.
Last month, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) injected some US$1.6 million to Trinidad and Tobago to assist with Venezuelans moving there.
Thus far in Guyana, there are approximately 5800 Venezuelan migrants – double the amount recorded six months ago – and this number is expected to increase daily.
On this note, Ambassador Lynch noted that while the situation is not a “serious concern” to the Guyana Government as yet, it may soon become one due 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.
The US diplomat pointed out that basic facilities in Guyana, including key services such as health, education and even job opportunities will become stretched.
“I know particularly the health area is being stressed because the Venezuelans coming into Guyana have not had decent health care in several years… So that might be a particular area of concern… But there are all sorts of (other) things to be met and it is something for Guyana to watch,” she asserted.
Nevertheless, the US envoy lauded Guyana for its generosity in accepting these persons who are fleeing worsened living conditions back home.
“I want to applaud the country for its generosity in accepting the Venezuelans without blinking an eye and I think that has been a tremendous help for those people,” Ambassador Lynch noted.
In recent years, Venezuela has been experiencing worsened economic and political turmoil. In fact, the deteriorated political situation has given birth to a parallel Government, putting the nation into unchartered territory – with two Presidents. However, many countries around the world now recognises Opposition Leader Juan Guiadó as the interim President following a 2018 elections, which re-elected President Nicolás Maduro. However, a majority of the international community has deemed those elections as fraudulent.
Speaking on this during Monday’s interview at the US Embassy, Ambassador Lynch said her country is worried about the South American country.
“It has been a declining situation for years. The Maduro regime had a so-called election in May 2018. It was fraudulent, coercive, there was electoral rigging… So there has been pressure put on the Maduro regime for from the international community for Mr Maduro to step aside and allow his country to be rebuilt and his citizens to regain their place in the region, and to feed their families. There are basic needs that are not being met right now in Venezuela,” the US diplomat stressed.
However, the support of these countries for Guiadó has resulted in Maduro – who still enjoys control over the courts, Central Bank and the military – breaking diplomatic ties with several nations including the US.
But in a recent turn of events, Maduro has said his country is now willing to accept international aid following a meeting with the Red Cross Chief, Peter Maurer.
Maduro took to his Twitter on Tuesday saying, “We confirm our readiness to establish cooperation mechanisms for international assistance and support,” but noted that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) should respect the Venezuelan legal order.
The current crisis engulfing Venezuela is now in its fifth consecutive year and according to a new United Nations report, almost a quarter of the once-wealthy South American nation’s population is in dire need of help, with a whopping 94 per cent Venezuelan living in poverty.
International media reports say the internal report highlights that some seven million Venezuelans “or about 24 per cent of the total population currently living in the country, are estimated to have urgent priority needs for assistance and protection.”