Immigration department to strengthen operations at Parika

Ministry of Citizenship, Press Release – Georgetown, Guyana – (October 22, 2018)

The Ministry of Citizenship is concerned about the number of Venezuelan migrants arriving at port Parika, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara Region (Region Three) without documentation as well as those not presenting themselves to immigration authorities.

At a meeting of the National Multi-Sectoral Coordinating Committee this morning, Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix has since mandated the Immigration Department to strengthen its operations at Parika, Region Three while working closely with the Ministry of Public Health to document, screen and vaccinate persons arriving through that route. To date, the Immigration Department has recorded a total of 2,779 migrants here.

Over the past weeks, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), one of the international partners that the Government has been working with, has been using the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) system, to identify needs and vulnerabilities of those displaced. Through that system, the IOM has been able to verify that for the Barima- Waini Region (Region One) and the Demerara-Mahaica Region (Region Four), migrants coming to Guyana are young with the overwhelming majority being female.

The DTM has also revealed that the most important needs at this time are assistance with documentation, food and employment or income-generating activities.

Further, based on the interviews conducted in Regions One and Four, the vast majority of migrants indicated that Guyana is their final destination, at least for the duration of their displacement.

Going forward, the IOM will be working closely with the Immigration Department to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to deal with occurrences like the influx of Venezuelan migrants.

Meanwhile, the Committee was informed that while the arrival numbers are not very high, the situation can change significantly as other countries tighten their immigration policies or even close their borders as Brazil briefly did in August.

Regional Coordinator of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Joel Anderson, who was present at today’s meeting, informed that his organisation is currently working on a Humanitarian Response Plan through which Guyana will be entitled to assistance under the Caribbean Chapter.

Meanwhile, with respect to reports of an outbreak of gastroenteritis in Blackwater Village, Region One, the Ministry of Public Health representative informed the Committee that 141 Venezuelans were treated, and the situation has been stabilised. Additionally, Community Health Workers are working in Yarakita, Whitewater, Morawhanna and Kariako communities.

In terms of direct relief, last week, the IOM distributed 140 non-food item kits to Yarakita, Whitewater, Imbotero and Kumaka located in Region One while the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) has also dispatched an additional 84 food and non-food item hampers to that Region.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), another international partner on the Committee, recently received an additional US$500,000 at aid relief efforts.