Guyana Chronicle:- UNICEF Guyana and Suriname Country Programme Representative Sylvie Fouet said 11 of the 74 schools in Region One are accepting children from neighbouring Venezuela.
The Spanish-speaking children are between ages 10 and 20.
Fouet, during a recent meeting with reporters, said UNICEF has been on the ground and assessed the situation.
“We have been receiving information, we have been visiting schools and we have seen children being included in schools,” the UNICEF Country Representative said. She, however, at the time was unable to disclose the number of Spanish-speaking children in those 11 schools.
The language barrier is among challenges facing the Venezuelan children, and as such, UNICEF will be offering support in the form of interpreters.
The UNICEF country representative said too that the Country Office will be offering needed support to the Social Worker Network.
“Most of the communities we have visited were actually absorbing not only children but families, mainly in the Amerindian area,” she said.
Focus too is being placed on water and sanitation.
The Ministry of Citizenship along with relevant immigration agencies are reportedly putting systems in place to aid destitute Venezuelans affected by severe economic hardships in their country and seeking refuge here.
In April, Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix had said Guyana is no exception, as Venezuelans continue to come here almost on a daily basis, some legally and others illegally. Felix indicated that Guyana is seeking to take a more accommodating approach to the situation.
Border communities with Venezuela had reported to local authorities that scores of Venezuelans were crossing into Guyana seeking food, medical attention and even trading opportunities.
Village leaders in those communities had requested from the Guyana Government, additional supplies to accommodate the influx of Venezuelans, as regular materials being delivered could no longer sustain them and their foreign neighbours.
Some Venezuelans have been coming in the country legally and reporting to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ (UNHCR) extended office here for refugee status.
The socio-economic crisis in Venezuela has seen a massive exodus out of the Bolivarian state. The International Organisation for Migration has reported that an estimated 1.6 million Venezuelans left the country in 2017, up from 700,000 in 2015, with an estimated 1.3 million seeking refuge in the Americas, including the Caribbean.
Both Colombia and Brazil have tightened their borders, owing to the influx of “hundreds of thousands of desperate migrants” seeking healthcare, food and mainly jobs to send money back to their families.
Trinidad and Tobago has become more vocal about the influx of Venezuelans in the twin-island nation, while other Caribbean countries, among them St. Lucia, have expressed concern over the Venezuelan migration.