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Police ordered to seize boats carrying influx of Venezuelan migrants in Region 3

…migrants being processed; porous borders a challenge – Home Affairs Minister

Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn

Over the past few days, a number of Venezuelan migrants have been caught entering Guyana via Tuschen, Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara). The boats that brought undocumented migrants are being seized, as these migrants continue to be processed.
This was explained by Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn, in an exclusive interview with this publication. He made it clear that while the Coast Guard and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) have been seizing such boats over the years, they were ordered to seize the latest boat that came ashore
“In this case we told the Police to seize the boats. The Coast Guards. I know this latest one, definitely the Coast Guard has seized another one. On and off, they seized a number of boats over the years. Coming through the coast from Shell Beach, out in the Moruca river and all those places,” Benn explained.
“There are people who are on watch. Either Police, immigration or CPG itself. And at Charity. But our country is large. There are a lot of trails and inlets and creeks. And of course, there’s always the big ocean out there where there are gaps in coverage. But we’re working on it.”

Some of the Venezuelan migrants who arrived on Thursday at Tuschen (Gordon Mosely photos)

According to the Minister, these latest migrants appear to have come from well out in the Atlantic Ocean. Benn spoke of floating bases, where it is believed migrants are stashed until they can be brought inland under the cover of darkness.
“There are floating bases out there, with small patrol boats both coming through from the Waini and at the mouth of the Pomeroon River. There are a number of places where you have, for instance, inlets where you can go and not be observed. Whether they’re paddling or coming in a powered boat,” the Home Affairs Minister said.

“But other than that, in this case they appear to be coming well out in the ocean. And I know it would be a very difficult journey for them. It appears they would have been coming (from) well out in the ocean and there’s some talk about them laying up overnight at various places and then coming in to drop off people.”
Minister Benn noted that one of the complications the authorities have had to deal with, is the fact that many of these Venezuelan migrants already have family or/and friends residing in Guyana. Some of them even have Guyanese parentage.
“One of the issues with it is that, strangely enough or maybe not strangely, many of them actually have Guyanese roots. Or already have family in Guyana, which complicates matters. But we’ve had the immigration and the Police taking down all their details for us to have a much clearer picture of what it is.”
At least 80 Venezuelans were smuggled into the country via the Atlantic Ocean at Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo (EBE), a few days ago. The Venezuelans, including women and children, arrived in a metal boat, with their luggage and a large quantity of chickens. They are currently in Police custody.

One of the boats that was seized by Police

Venezuelan migrants seeking refuge in Guyana are being encouraged to present themselves to immigration authorities to get registered in order to benefit from services offered by the Government.
Reports indicate that there are about 40,000 Venezuelan migrants residing in Guyana, however, only about 21,700 are officially documented. Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Hugh Todd convened a meeting of the Multi-Agency Coordinating Committee to address the influx of migrants from Venezuela into Guyana a few months ago.
The meeting was attended by key Government stakeholders along with international partners during which ongoing efforts to bring humanitarian assistance to those migrants from Venezuela were examined. The Government’s response to the migrants includes registration and regularisation services, socio-economic and cultural integration into the Guyanese society and the provision of healthcare and education for migrant children.
Despite the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela and the case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the Government of Guyana has taken a policy decision to offer humanitarian assistance to migrants fleeing from Venezuela.
Noteworthy is that a significant number are the Warraus, one of the Indigenous groups from Venezuela whose sister group of Warraus live in Guyana in Region One (Barima-Waini), close to the border. The Government has put on record that this group poses the greatest concern from a health and socio-economic perspective.