Guyana establishes support group for Venezuelans seeking refuge

first_imgA new group, deemed the Venezuela Support Group (VSG), has been established in Guyana to provide advice and assistance to Venezuelans seeking refuge from the deprivations and insecurity currently gripping their homeland.A release from the Human Rights Association on Saturday stated that the VSG, consisting of eight civic and faith-based organizations, was assembled to establish possible partnerships with the Ministry of Citizenship in regard to the above situation.The founding members of the VSG include the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA), Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), Guyana Institute for Transparency Inc (GITI), Moray House Trust, Policy Forum Guyana, Red Thread, Roman Catholic Diocese of Guyana, and the Ursuline Sisters in Guyana.“Member organizations of the VSG have previously publicly expressed their concerns about the humanitarian aspect of the on-going crisis in Venezuela in press releases, panel discussions and in communication with various Ministries,” the release said.The VSG was designed to address concerns, some of which include distinguishing humanitarian obligations to the Venezuelan people from political factors that currently influence both the internal crisis in Venezuela and Caricom Secretariat’s reluctance to date to formulate specific advice to member States on how to respond to that crisis; and to devise a flexible, evidence-based rather than speculative response appropriate to the relatively small numbers of Venezuelans currently in Guyana.In addition, the group has committed to respect the fact that Venezuelans in Guyana have documented their wish not to seek formal refugee status, but to seek temporary renewable visas that allow them to earn money while in Guyana.The initial focus of the VSG would, however, be on ensuring that persons arriving from that neighbouring country receive information and assistance to secure valid visas to remain in Guyana, and are not exploited financially or abused in other ways.The Human Rights Association of Guyana made clear it has learnt that “some consideration has been given to permit Venezuelans in Guyana to regularize their situation on the basis of possession of an ID card, rather than a passport.“Although, to date, there has been no formal announcement by the Government of Guyana on the matter, we welcome this development in general as protecting Venezuelans against exposure to detention, fines and deportation. Moreover, this step would also align Guyana with the recent appeal made by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) for neighbouring countries to adopt flexible arrangements of this nature”.It was highlighted nonetheless that the humanitarian group is in the process of instituting offices which are slated to be situated opposite the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Brickdam, Georgetown.The group has boasted that its service is being supported by the UNHCR, which is in the process of establishing a permanent location in Guyana.According to the release, “The VSG will support the smooth implementation of any new regulations and related policy guidelines through the following activities; ensure the regulations and the accompanying procedures are known to arriving Venezuelans; provide advice and, where necessary, accompaniment, in the process of regularizing their presence in Guyana; Support Venezuelans in need of assistance to contact family or other persons; Make known social and welfare services which may be accessible to Venezuelans with special needs; Contribute to information-gathering initiatives, especially in interior communities; and Provide opportunities for Venezuelans to communicate with other Venezuelans”.The group pointed out that it has taken a decision to prioritize the safeguarding of the humanitarian character, in particular insulating it from attempts to politicize it, or from any association with the border issue. It also committed to stand as a focal point through which displaced persons or families can communicate with each other.Some 25 Venezuelans were recently discovered camping in the open air under very poor conditions in Lethem, Region Nine, and Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge has given full assurance that Guyana would continue to assist the people of Venezuela, who continue to flee their country to escape its economic, social and political crises.last_img

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