In March, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba and the Dominican Republic hosted national launches for the 2022 Refugee and Migrant Response Plan. The launches were virtually atended by the Joint Special Representative of UNHCR and IOM for Venezuelan refugees and migrants, Dr. Eduardo Stein, who brought welcoming and closing remarks on behalf of the R4V Regional Inter-agency Coordination Platform. Details on population projections, context and planning assumptions as well as response activities for the regional, Caribbean Sub-regional and national levels were shared. Representatives from governments, UN agencies, international and local NGOs, academia and the diplomatic community atended.
The Venezuelan Chancellor and the Aruban Prime Minister raised the topic of re-opening borders between the two countries in a meeting in Honduras. The mater remains under deliberation with the possibility of initially re-opening for trade only, provided that proper procedures are established. Various detentions of Venezuelans took place during the reporting period, with the Aruban authorities conducting random checks in the hospitality and construction sectors and other spaces where they believed persons with irregular status might be employed. The Aruban Coast Guard and the Aruban Police Corps (CPA) also intercepted boats that were allegedly carrying Venezuelans trying to enter the island in an irregular manner.
Curaçao’s Prime Minister met virtually with the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs and expressed concerns over the Venezuelan authorities’ lack of response on the request to open the borders between both countries. Additionally, a large-scale inspection was carried out at a beach resort construction site, where five people were detained, including Venezuelans, for not being in possession of a work or residence permit. On another note, R4V partners received increased requests for food assistance from Venezuelan refugees and migrants as food prices continued to rise. Furthermore, R4V partners received a delegation of the Dutch First Chamber Parliament to discuss the humanitarian situation of refugees and migrants from Venezuela, with a special focus on legal protection issues.
Partners in the Dominican Republic continued to provide support to the Venezuelan population participating in the normalization plan, through the payment of documentation processing fees, legal support, normalization plan Q&A sessions and more. They also assisted the authorities with coordination, logistics and communication activities and published over 345 posts containing information on the situation of refugees and migrants from Venezuela via distinct social network sites, radio stations and more.
• The Vice-President of Guyana, at a gathering in Region 2, stated that the government will help Guyanese who have returned from Venezuela and refugees and migrants from Venezuela who left their country. He urged that they must be treated with dignity and respect and should not be discriminated against. Separately, through a Government operation, approximately 35 families/135 Venezuelan refugees and migrants were relocated from Region 2 to Region 1 in an indigenous community setlement in Khan Hill, Mabaruma after claims of vandalism. Subsequently, the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region 1 provided food and medical assistance to the families, including food hampers donated by one R4V partner.
- The Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) results released by one partner in Trinidad and Tobago revealed that of a total of 1,376 Venezuelan refugees and migrants who participated in the DTM 2021, 77% were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Separately, the Coast Guard crew members involved in the death of a Venezuelan infant in the previous month were removed from sea duties. Furthermore, a Venezuelan mother of two, afflicted with uterine cancer, appealed for help to pay for surgery as refugees and migrants cannot access free tertiary healthcare under the public healthcare system in the country. Additionally, the country was warned to brace for continued hikes in food prices which R4V partners anticipate will create additional economic strain on refugees and migrants and host community members.