‘We’re not running refugee camps’ – Pres. Ali says gov’t offering humanitarian aid to migrants

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President Irfaan Ali on Thursday said that Guyana has employed an inter-agency humanitarian response to migrants fleeing social, economic and political unsteadiness in their countries.

In recent years, Guyana has seen an influx of desperate Venezuelan migrants crossing the shared and porous border; some have even regarded them as refugees, but Dr. Ali in his latest comment on the issue has said that the country is working with international partners to offer humanitarian aid.

“We are not running refugee camps here where you cross the border and there is chain-link fence and razors…we are looking at it from a humanitarian perspective,” the Head of State said as he addressed the opening of the Police Officers’ Conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).

He was responding to the recent arrival of over 100 migrants from Cariaco, including children, who turned up in Kabakaburi, an Amerindian village in the Upper Pomeroon River, Region Two.

They were in desperate need of food, clothing and medical care, the Village’s Toshao, Monty Simon told the News Room on Wednesday.

Dr. Ali said there has been misrepresentation of Guyana’s response to the situation here and on Wednesday he clarified that joint services and international partners were meeting to strategize the level of support to be offered.

“We want to support their livelihoods, hygiene and health…we recognise this is a serious issue and we also have our security concerns,” the Head of State added.

The latest migrants to arrive here are said to be from the Warrau tribe in Venezuela and reportedly paddled their way to the village in Region Two and have since been relocated to a migrant camp in Region One by members of the joint services.

Immigration officers, the Coast Guard and police all responded to the situation.

Not long after their arrival, the authorities in the region dispatched a medical team and also provided shelter and food hampers.

The Village Toshao debunked claims in the media that the migrants were destroying their farmlands.

The United Nations (UN) Refugee Agency Representative for Guyana, Philippa Candler revealed in November that about 24,500 Venezuelans have migrated to Guyana.

The international body had expressed concerns about the condition of the Warrau indigenous migrants.

According to assessments conducted in October and November in 2021, the Warrau migrants, in particular, have mounting needs and this has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, in November last year about 20 Venezuelan Warrau children were found sick and malnourished at Anabisi in the North West District; immediate medical care was provided following the government’s intervention.

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