Guyana Times:– Government on Monday announced that plans are in progress for the development of a homestead settlement area for the 260 confirmed Venezuelan refugees, who are occupying areas in Region One (Barima-Waini).
This was related by Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix at the conclusion of the third multi-agency coordinating committee meeting held at the Ministry of Citizenship, Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, Georgetown.
In addition to the resettlement area being self-reliant, “it is intended that we [will] develop something like a homestead where families are accumulated and eventually, we can move them into cash crop farming. We can encourage that so that in the first instance, they can feed themselves and if they have surpluses, they can sell. We are looking at crops for their sustenance and their immediate needs. Once you get that … going, then the next thing is to guide them into areas in which they can sustain themselves. The immediate outcome is that we want to see them properly settled and they must be able to sustain themselves…,” the Minister is quoted by the Ministry of the Presidency as saying.
According to him, the agencies on the committee will continue to play their roles in lending whatever assistance is necessary to those in Region One while assessing the migration of Venezuelans into Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).
“In the meantime, the Ministry of Health is continuing its vaccination [efforts]… [The Department of] Immigration is continuing the registration and support work… The Police [are] also following through with the support work to this committee. So, all agencies, locally, are locked into this committee to provide services and support for the Venezuelans in Guyana. We are also exploring the situation in Region Seven [in order] to find out where [the Venezuelans] are and what numbers we have to [cater for],” he said.
The Committee has also been working alongside the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF); International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Human Rights’ Council (UNHRC) to determine areas of collaboration and support.
Rather than criminalise the Venezuelans, Minister Felix said that the Committee and, by extension, the Government, have chosen to respond to the situation in a humane manner, with concern for the safety, health, and accommodation of the migrants.
Guyana had, in 2016, convened a meeting of Non-Governmental Organisations and the Private Sector to consider the deteriorating conditions in Venezuela. The Venezuelan Government was, however, not open to receiving any material assistance being offered at the time.
Guyana is already providing medical assistance to many Venezuelans. It has been reported that Venezuelan nationals are crossing into Guyana, especially at Region One, to seek medical treatment for malaria.
There have been persistent reports that owing to a troubled economy and unrest that has gripped that nation, shortages of basic services and food exist in Venezuela, including health services.