First Lady assists Venezuelan migrants in Reg. 1
First Lady Mrs Arya Ali and regional officials on Wednesday visited Venezuelan migrants who have occupied parts of the Barima-Waini Region, to conduct a needs assessment, in an effort to bring relief to those who are in desperate need of assistance.
Venezuelans began fleeing the neighbouring country a few years ago, making their way into parts of the region that are easily accessible.
They have since erected structures that provide housing for them, and have been growing some of their food. They occasionally receive donations from the government and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs).
Mrs Ali learnt of the state of the migrants earlier this month through a news report and decided to support the government’s efforts in offering assistance.
In the company of regional officials, including Regional Chairman Brethnol Ashley, and Regional Executive Officer (REO) Teka Bissessar, the First Lady visited more than 200 of migrants at Khan’s Hill.
Mrs Ali donated a large quantity of sanitary supplies and water and engaged some of the migrants to better understand their needs and concerns.
Most of the migrants are of the Warao Nation and cannot speak English. As such, the Ministry of Local Government through the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) has set up a management team that includes a translator.
“We discovered that the most important things for the migrants now are food, clothing and proper shelter. It is important for us to understand their needs before we offer assistance because we have to be conscious of the cultural differences,” the First Lady explained.
She said that her office will now begin mobilizing resources, which includes food supplies and clothing, and have those delivered to the migrants through the Local Government Ministry.
The government is in the process of building a housing facility for some of the migrants and exploring ways to have them contribute to the regional economy through employment.
Mrs Ali has also discussed the possibility of erecting and furnishing a separate building that can serve as a village kitchen for the migrants.
“They are here and they are in need, and we are trying our best to provide support to them. At the end of the day, they are people just like us, with children just like us, and they want a better life for themselves and their children just like anyone would. So because they are here, we have a moral obligation to assist if we can,” the First Lady shared.