Guyana tells Venezuelan migrants to come forward and be documented

Saturday, January 19, 2019

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) is urging Venezuelan nationals not to go into hiding, saying there's no need for them to fear deportation.

“I know sometimes people come and they hide, thinking that they will be locked up — that's not the position that is taken as it relates to migrants,” said the CDC acting director general, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig.

Venezuelans have been fleeing their South American country in droves because of the ongoing political and economic situation there; and while Guyana and Venezuela have an ongoing border dispute, the authorities here have not turned back the migrants.

The acting director general said the immigration department has a responsibility to document incoming migrants and that while the migrants are allowed to stay for a certain period, in many cases it is extended.

“So if they come out and get documented, we would be able to give them some amount of support,” Craig said, adding that the rehabilitation of the building identified for establishment of the migrant support centre is expected to be completed within three months.

He said that the location was chosen because the authorities have determined that many Venezuelan migrants enter Guyana through Charity, a small township located in the Pomeroon-Supenaam region, and are not documented.

“The migrant support centre is not a centre where people are going to go and live, it's a centre where people are going to receive services, so the Venezuelans would come and be documented. They are going to receive vaccinations, they are going to receive any treatment they would need, any guidance — and it would also help us to monitor electronically persons coming in and screen persons coming in.”

Craig described the ongoing migrant issue as a complex humanitarian situation. So far, GUY$25 million has been expended in funding to aid the migrants.

The CDC, in collaboration with several international organisations such as the International Organisation for Migration, has been distributing food and sanitary supplies to migrants in the border regions of Guyana.

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