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Guyana ‘standing out’ in support for Venezuelan immigrants – UNHCR

A mixed crowd of patrons learn a Latino dance as part of the Guyana/Venezuela Day celebrations (Vishani Ragobeer photos) A mixed crowd of patrons learn a Latino dance as part of the Guyana/Venezuela Day celebrations (Vishani Ragobeer photos)

UNITED Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Senior Liaison Officer Cecilie Saenz Guerrero has hailed Guyana as a model for the rest of the Caribbean for the level of support it has been providing to Venezuelan migrants.UNITED Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Senior Liaison Officer Cecilie Saenz Guerrero has hailed Guyana as a model for the rest of the Caribbean for the level of support it has been providing to Venezuelan migrants.
Guerrero was speaking during a Guyana/ Venezuela event held on Sunday at the YMCA ground, Thomas Lands. The event, organised by the UNHCR and its local partner the Migrant Support Network (MSN), was geared at deepening ties between the migrants in Guyana, and the wider Guyanese society. As such, the mixed crowd was feted with music, dances and food from both Guyana and Venezuela.
“It is that time of the year, the holiday season, where families may be separated due to the conflict in the country, so we think that having a day like a ‘Guyana/Venezuela’ day can at least compensate a little, and bring people together,” Guerrero said. Additionally, she expressed her belief that such an event functions to enhance social cohesion among people living in Guyana, which, according to her, is already a tenet given much emphasis nationally.
While Sunday’s event sought to provide a space for celebration and cultural integration, the UNHCR official noted that it is only a small part of the work being done to provide some redress for the migrants. The UNHCR itself supports the government in providing public services, such as education, health, registration, inter alia.
ungynews 201912232“Guyana is a country that is really standing out, in terms of showing generosity to the Venezuelans coming here,” she said. “We see it in all parts of the country, especially in the bordering regions like Regions One, Five and Seven, where you have Guyanese and Guyanese Amerindians welcoming the Venezuelans.”
According to data from UNHCR, quoted in a World Bank report, between 2016 and November 2019, more than 4.6 million men, women, and children have left Venezuela in search of a better future. Of that sum, it is estimated that about 17,000 have come to Guyana.
Responding to this influx of Venezuelans, Guerrero also reminded that in 2018, the government took the initiative to establish a working group chaired by the Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix, and encompassing stakeholder agencies. This body functions to discuss the current needs of migrants and outline the measures that can be taken to provide redress to those migrants and to the host country and communities.
“Overall, the Government of Guyana has set an example for the Caribbean that many other countries can look to,” she said.
Currently, Guyana, through the support of the UNHCR, has begun implementing a digitalised system of registration for the Venezuelan migrants. This system, which includes the migrants’ biometric data, is part of the system of providing a three-month stay permit, which can be renewed upon expiry.
In future, the body hopes to work along with the government to provide employment opportunities for the migrants.

Last modified on Friday, 27 December 2019 19:11
Written on Monday, 23 December 2019 Published in News Stories Read 88 times