GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Religious, humanitarian and non-governmental organizations in Guyana have rapped the David Granger administration for its treatment of Venezuelans fleeing their homeland because of the worsening political and economic environment.
Venezuelans who enter Georgetown illegally are taken before the law courts, fined and deported.
But the groups insist that Venezuelans should not be treated as illegal migrants but have proposed that Venezuelans be registered on arrival.
“A collaborative approach to governance encompassing relevant civic, business and Government agencies might begin by ensuring registration of Venezuelan refugees arriving at our borders, thereby both providing them with legal protection and discouraging illegal entry through porous borders and beaches,” the groups said.
They reasoned that registration of Venezuelan refugees “would also strengthen the possibility of more orderly reintegration of the refugees into their own country when circumstances permit a safe and minimally decent life.”
The concerned groups suggest it was the least Caribbean countries could offer as Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments have opted not to interfere in Venezuela’s domestic politics.
They however caution that Government had to pay attention to the humanitarian crisis, expressing concern that countries were not in a position to handle an influx of Venezuelan nationals.
“CARICOM countries are already beginning to feel the effects of the tens of thousands of refugees seeking asylum in neighbouring Latin American countries as a result of the severe economic disintegration and political instability fuelling that crisis,” the organizations said.
The groups – including the Anglican Diocese of Guyana, Roman Catholic Bishop of Guyana Francis Alleyne, BENAB (Youth), Church Women United, East Coast Clean-Up Committees, Guyana Society for the Blind, Guyana Environment Initiative (GEI), Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) and Guyanese Organization of Indigenous peoples (GOIP), Jesuits in Guyana, Policy Forum Guyana, Red Thread, Rights of Children (ROC), Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. and Ursuline Sisters in Guyana – say they have no other motive but looking out for Venezuelans.
“For this reason, in a spirit of solidarity and social justice and in collaboration with relevant international agencies, we commit to engaging with the challenge of promoting the protection of the fundamental rights of Venezuelan refugees,” they said.