Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix, said in a radio interview that Guyana was asked not to prosecute Venezuelans for Immigration offences.
This request was made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) last year. This request was also extended to all countries that border Venezuela.
These countries, including Guyana, were also asked not to send back Venezuelans and to treat them humanely.
But according to a recent World Bank Report, it has been observed that 11 countries have begun to tighten border entry requirements for Venezuelans. However, the report says that this has not stemmed the influx but affected its legality.
One such country that has taken this initiative is Peru.
As it regards to Guyana, Minister Felix said that his country will not “turn its back on its neighbours.”
He said that since the request, Guyana has taken the initiative to admit and register Venezuelans who were found in breach of the immigration laws.
Felix explained that the Guyana Police Force (GPF) is working along with the Ministry of Health to register and inoculate these migrants.
Not so long ago the World Health Organization (WHO) along with the Pan American Health organization (PAHO) had projected that Guyana can expect an entry of 38000 to 40000 Venezuelans next year.
Minister Volda Lawrence had raised concerns about the strain this would have on Guyana’s economy especially as it relates to Health services.
She highlighted the fact that Guyana may not have the capacity to deal with such a large number of Venezuelan migrants.
In response to this, the Minister of Citizenship made it clear that even though these numbers may be true, they are only projections.
Felix said that he will not be driven by such projections but will assess “what is going on locally” and make his own projections based on the evidence at hand.
The Minister advised Guyana that it should not deny accepting Venezuelans in its doors.
Felix made reference to numbers of Guyanese who live and work in countries abroad including Venezuela.
The Minister said that when Guyana experienced its share of trouble, 1000s of Guyanese migrated to Venezuela. “Even now as Venezuela is suffering, some of these Guyanese are still returning home”.
As it relates to the strain on Guyana’s national budget, the Minister admitted that indeed it will have an impact on the country’s economy.
However, Guyana is being assisted by a number of organisations including UNHCR to provide these migrants with basic aid such as water, food and hygienic products.
The World Bank report states that 4000 to 5000 migrants leave Venezuela every day not knowing where they will end up. Many of them arrive in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.
These countries have been complaining about jobs being lost to Venezuelans, the economical strain and the influx of persons with criminal backgrounds.
But the Author of the World Bank report began his article with this question, “How many kilometers are you prepared to walk to flee from hunger?”
This question was then followed with a statement, “For Venezuelans, no distance is too great to escape their country’s economic and social collapse”.
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