‘Venes’ crisis hits Caribbean

Island nations struggling to cope with refugees as millions leave Venezuela for a better life elsewhere

ANGER: Venezuelans have protested economic conditions

WITH NO end in sight to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, its neighbours are still dealing with the consequences of the country’s economic implosion – and that includes several Caribbean territories.

Trinidad, Guyana, the Dutch Caribbean and the Dominican Republic are among the destinations that have found themselves caught unawares by the mass exodus of Venezuelan migrants fleeing hard times at home.

The United Nations has predicted that by the end of this year, more than five million Venezuelans – 15 per cent of the population – will have become refugees.

ASSIMILATE

In mid-November, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) launched a fundraising effort to support projects aimed at helping Venezuelan migrants in 17 countries, including some Caribbean territories. The aim is to raise $1.35bn (£1.03bn) to help the migrants’ new host countries.

The majority have gone elsewhere in South America: Colombia (1.4m Venezuelans), Peru (860,900), Chile (371,200) and Ecuador (330,400).

Admittedly, the Caribbean immigration figures are nowhere near these levels – but they still pose problems for small island nations struggling to assimilate them.

Earlier this year, Trinidad & Tobago conducted a registration period for Venezuelans who had settled there. Trinidadian newspapers reported the official count as 16,000 Venezuelans granted temporary residency.

That residency included work permits for six months, with…

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