Strategic Response Priorities
Support the Government’s efforts to continue facilitating registration of Venezuelans using digital systems for biometric registration, documentation and issuance of stay permits in all regions of the country.
Prevent, mitigate and respond to protection risks of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, through capacity building of key actors, and prioritizing comprehensive assistance to those with specific needs, and the most vulnerable, especially victims of trafficking and survivors of gender-based violence and labor exploitation.
Strengthen GBV response mechanisms and case management through support for shelter, medical care, MHPSS and CBI
Provide water and sanitation (WASH) infrastructure and services, coupled with the promotion of good hygiene practices.
Improve access to inclusive quality education services for school-aged Venezuelan children and youth, returning Guyanese and indigenous Warao communities.
Support access to formal livelihood opportunities through community-based interventions targeting Venezuelans and vulnerable host communities.
Support and increase the government’s capacity to respond to the COVID-19 emergency including procurement and purchase of medical, quarantine facilities and other supplies.
Scale up the provision of essential goods and critical services such as food, NFI, emergency shelter, healthcare and psychosocial support to vulnerable refugees and migrants during the implementation of restrictions measures due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Establish communication with communities, by ensuring all persons have access to culturally and linguistically tailored information regarding COVID-19, and establishment of communication channels in remote areas to provide information and to respond to the needs expressed by the communities.
Venezuelans continue to seek safety in Guyana because of serious threats to their lives, security, freedom and other significant protection risks they face in their country of origin. The Government of Guyana maintained a commendable opendoor policy to Venezuelans, and, with the support of R4V partners, introduced a digitized system for biometric registration and documentation of new arrivals.
Prior to border closures brought on by COVID-19, Immigration Officers issued a Household Registration Certificate to Venezuelans upon entry, which includes a provision against forced return and a renewable three-month stay permit. Support for biometric registration was suspended by R4V partners due to the outbreak of COVID-19, but Immigration continued manual registration. Borders remain closed, however, so incoming numbers of Venezuelans have been noted as small during the period of restrictions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has considerably increased the vulnerability of Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Guyana and impacted the economy and public health of the country. The closure of borders and social distancing have largely disrupted businesses, leaving Venezuelans with limited or no access to livelihoods, and prompting evictions and discrimination that have negatively affected them. The slowdown of the Guyanese economy has resulted in refugees and migrants enquiring about support to return to their country of origin and/or increase in needs for financial support. Concerns about continued pendular movements are also prevalent given that Guyana shares more than 1000 miles of border with Brazil, a country with high numbers of COVID-19 cases in early June 2020. Sex workers have been facing evictions and have been moving to mining areas to secure livelihood opportunities. This situation increases their vulnerability of becoming Victims of Trafficking and/or exploitation and COVID-19. One mining area in region 7 has the second largest number of positive COVID-19 cases in Guyana, including sex workers among the positive cases. Increased cases of GBV brought on by the impacts of the COVID-19 lockdown have also been reported, highlighting the need for more psychosocial support, food and NFI.
Other concerns faced by Venezuelans in Guyana include lack of access to formal employment and livelihood opportunities, language barriers that hinder access to basic services, such as health care and education, and lack of safe and dignified shelter and services, especially in the hinterland and bordering regions. Indigenous ethnic groups and other minorities are particularly vulnerable, considering that they face specific challenges due to cultural and linguistic barriers and to the fact they live in remote locations poorly communicated and affected by the shortage of commodities and rising prices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The large numbers of refugees and migrants from Venezuela combined with the impacts of COVID-19 have put pressure on the already limited resources of the country. Curfews and stay at home orders remained in place, schools, non-essential businesses and all ports of entry remain closed up to 18 June, when phased openings for the country were announced and Guyanese citizens stranded abroad were allowed to return.