Nov 28, 2021 News
…as child recently rescued at Port Kaituma dies
Kaieteur News – The escalating refugee crisis in Guyana involving people fleeing poverty-stricken conditions in neighbouring Venezuela, making their way into Guyana—sometime having to still live in poor conditions, has been flagged by the United Nations as concerning.
At least this is according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which in highlighting the growing crisis in Guyana pointed to the recent revelation of scores of indigenous Warrau families from Venezuela, living in malnourished and unhygienic conditions at Anabisi in the Port Kaituma locale.
UNHCR‘s Multi-Country Office Representative in Panama, speaking to journalists in Geneva on Friday last, called for more humanitarian presence and support from the international community.
According to the UN spokesperson, an estimated 24,500 refugees and migrants from Venezuela are living in Guyana, including some 2,500 indigenous Warao. “One meal a day, no shelter, and no drinking water are only some of the difficult living conditions that indigenous Warao families from Venezuela are facing in remote locations across Guyana,” UNHCR said.
According to the report, some of the refugees have settled in hard-to-reach areas near the Venezuelan border and others in or around the towns of Mabaruma and Port Kaituma.
Since early 2020, the UN observed that some 250 Warraus have found refuge in Anabisi in northern Guyana with more than half of this group being children. According to UNHCR, these communities have limited access to services and the delivery of aid is impeded by remoteness, lack of transport infrastructure and distance.
Assessments conducted in October and November show mounting needs, aggravated by the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, UNHCR said it received reports that at least one of the children found in the Anabisi community died and several others were hospitalised, reportedly due to malnutrition and diseases related to poor sanitation conditions. Some have been discharged since.
Last week Kaieteur News reported that over the previous weekend, local health authorities had to treat about 50 Venezuelan children who were found suffering from diarrhoea, skin rashes and other infections at Anabisi, Port Kaituma, Region One.
The intervention came following reports that a group of Amerindian migrants, including children, were found in poor health and some severely malnourished at Anabisi.
A team of Government officials subsequently rushed to the location to provide needed medical care to the group.
Kaieteur News has since learnt that the migrants were found along the riverbank of Port Kaituma, in makeshift camps some 10 minutes away from where local residents reside.
“The Government of Guyana is aware of the Amerindian migrants at Anabisi, Port Kaituma, North West District and has been attending to the situation. It is suspected that dozens of Amerindians including children may have entered Guyanese territory from a neighbouring village in Venezuela in poor health and without food,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a subsequent statement.
Providing immediate medical care and food relief also were Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, and Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai.
They were also joined by several doctors from the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and the Port Kaituma Hospital. Minister Anthony in a subsequent update said that while the children were treated for those illnesses, on the Sunday the medical team returned to the location, they were also able to detect cases of malaria among the adult population.
“On Sunday, the team saw 42 adults, and again we saw similar type of illnesses among the adults, in addition to which we were able to detect among the group, some cases of malaria and again, they were given treatment based on the medical condition they have,” he related.
The Minister however revealed that there were no emergency medical cases, but that some of the children attended to were chronically malnourished.
Another observation, he highlighted, was that the group was living in an unhygienic environment. “What we found generally in the camp is that it is very unhygienic because you have a lot of people living together. The team estimated that there are 198 persons, living in very close proximity and they are from 25 different families. So because of the unhygienic conditions, they are using the same water from the river, and they are using the river to wash and do other things there, the water is of no quality,” he added.
In response to this, the migrants were provided with ‘jerry cans’, which would allow them to filter the water, making it safer for them to use.
According to Dr. Anthony, discussions were also held on ways, which they can dispose of their garbage properly and areas where they can use to set up toilets.
In collaboration with the Region’s authorities, the Minister stated that a system has been put in place, which would allow the migrants to access the needed medical care at the Port Kaituma Hospital.
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