With the increased influx of Venezuelan migrants, government is hard-pressed to put accommodation measures in place. To date, there are 5,863 documented Venezuelan migrants in Guyana and reports suggest that the actual number of migrants far exceeds this sum.
Moreover, since the arrival of 140 Venezuelan migrants in Georgetown last Wednesday, the Department of Citizenship in collaboration with its international partners and other government agencies, has been working diligently to provide the migrants with temporary accommodation, meals, and medical and other services.
The majority of those who were being housed at Eve Leary have since been released into the care of their relatives. Presently, arrangements are being made to find housing for 45 persons, including 34 males and 11 females, who do not have any family connections on the coast. Additionally, housing arrangements are still being worked out for the 26 persons squatting along the Non Pariel foreshore.
Meanwhile, in an effort to protect the migrants from possible exploitation, the Immigration Department has established a protocol to vet persons claiming to be family members.
At yesterday’s meeting of the National Multi-Sectoral Coordinating Committee, Minister of Citizenship, Mr. Winston Felix shared that a special committee is being set up to explore the option of transforming the Papaya Centre, located in the Barima-Waini Region One, into a facility for migrants; noting that “the greater the inflow of migrants, the more pressed we will be to find space”.
Additionally, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) will be seeking permission from the relevant authorities to renovate an abandoned hostel at Kumaka, Region One, to house migrants, particularly since this is a region where the inflow is greater.
The Committee was also informed that a primary school is being constructed at Eteringbang, which will accommodate about 60 migrant children. As a result of the influx of Venezuelans, the regional health and education systems have been spread very thinly to cater to the needs of migrants. Based on recent reports, there has been an addition of 50 students at Paruima in the Cuyuni-Mazaruni, Region Seven. Taking into account the vast increases in the school system, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is working with the Ministry of Education to roll out a project that will see Guyanese teachers being trained to teach English as a second language to Spanish-speaking students.
Technology is also being heavily relied on to better manage the influx of migrants. In fact, the IOM has informed that a mobile application called ‘MIGAP’ will be launched to make more accessible all pertinent information regarding migrant support services that are available in Guyana.