Guyana in talks with Cuba, Suriname on camped out asylum seekers

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd on Monday met with Cuban Ambassador to Guyana, Narciso Reinaldo Armador Socorro to discuss the issue regarding Cubans looking to enter Guyana with the intention of travelling to the United States to seek asylum.

The meeting occurred on the same day that Guyanese authorities announced the postponement of the reopening of the Moleson Creek Crossing to stave off the scores of Cubans camping out at South Drain in Suriname who are desirous of entering Guyana.

Also part of the meeting was Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira; Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall and Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn.

Even before Guyana and Suriname announced that the crossing will be reopened a week ago, scores of Cubans in Suriname had congregated at South Drain waiting to travel into Guyana.

On Monday, Works Minister, Juan Edghill who has oversight responsibility for the ferry service on Guyana’s end, said that the United Nations had become involved and the matter was being handled at the diplomatic level.

He said the reopening of the crossing was postponed until the two countries can address the congregating of the Cubans.

“My understanding is that there is excellent collaboration. The United Nations is also involved and that is going well,” Edghill said.

The Guyanese Minister also announced that a team from Guyana will travel to Suriname on Friday to hold talks with authorities there.

According to reports out of Suriname published by Reuters, the Surinamese government will provide humanitarian assistance to a group of some 490 Cuban migrants stranded at the western border of the country.

The incident comes as U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in last month’s election has raised hopes among asylum seekers that Washington’s current hardline policies on immigration will be relaxed.

The group, which local media reported includes both recent arrivals seeking to reach the United States and longer-term residents of Suriname seeking to leave due to the country’s high inflation and economic downturn.

“We consider it a serious matter,” Albert Ramdin, Suriname’s minister of foreign affairs, said in a statement issued on Thursday, adding that the country was providing the migrants with shelter, food, and medical assistance.

Authorities have also suspended flights from Cuba and Haiti into Suriname.

The foreign ministry said it had requested technical assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Red Cross, and the International Organisation for Migration.

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