The Government must be cautious with its plans to develop shelters for Venezuelans, former president Bharrat Jagdeo says, noting that the situation could become threatening to the country’s territorial integrity.
“They should be repatriated to Venezuela given the nature of the threat on the border and what a settlement on our side of the border with permanent residents from Venezuela, a settlement of that nature can pose a threat to our territorial integrity,” he told reporters at a news conference on Thursday.
Hundreds of Venezuelans have been crossing the borders into Guyana, fleeing escalating social and economic crisis in their homeland.
The coalition administration has adopted a humanitarian approach to the issue and instead of deporting the refugees, they have been providing assistance in the form of clothing, food, and shelter.
Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix announced more permanent plans to develop settlements in communities close to the borders to house the Venezuelans.
But Jagdeo hopes that these shelters are just to assist the refugees temporarily, with a vision of having them repatriated.
“I don’t know what the thinking is, I hope that it is just a place that people can receive the generosity of Guyana and be treated in a dignified manner to be repatriated at some point in time,” Jagdeo told a news conference on Thursday.
The Opposition Leader said he has since informed President David Granger at their last meeting that there are three types of people coming into Guyana from Venezuela, and each must be dealt with differently: returning Guyanese, Amerindians who have been crossing the borders and Venezuelans.
He said the Government has been addressing the issue entirely from a military approach, hence why the Head of State instructed the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to brief parliamentarians on the issues relating to the borders.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story initially stated that the Opposition Leader hoped “that these shelters are just to assist the refugees temporarily, with a vision of having them deported.” However, Mr Jagdeo did not use the word ‘deported’ but said ‘repatriated.’ The article has since been amended.