The Guyana Government is being called upon to state clearly, as a matter of urgency, how it intends to deal with Guyanese retuning from Venezuela and Venezuelans who are seeking refuge in Guyana in wake of the crisis in the neighboring country.
The matter came up on Wednesday during a meeting of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Foreign Affairs, where a decision was taken to invite both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Citizenship to provide information pertinent to the inquiry.
A letter from Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greendige back in April stated that the government was formulating a policy document to capture the procedure for dealing with the two categories of persons, many of whom are undocumented.
A similar correspondence from Citizenship Minister Winston Felix stated that that while Guyanese have been returning, many of them have settled with their family. Felix reasoned in the letter that there was no need for a program to offer aid to these persons.
But the two letters have not found favour with the Opposition members on the Committee who insisted that persons were crossing the porous border on a daily basis and were in need of aid and assistance to get registered.
The letter from Felix did note that the Guyana Elections Commission was responsible for issuing ID Cards but Felix said any person who is born to a Guyanese and was living in Venezuelan has entitlement to be registered.
The opposition members argued that intervention was needed urgently and many persons who are seeking assistance, including Guyanese living in Venezuela and who wishe to return home could not wait on a comprehensive policy document from the government.
Committee Chair Gail Teixeira said the promise of a policy document was given two months ago and she believes the Cabinet should have already finalized such a document.
The Opposition said Government must state clearly now what is its structured humanitarian assistance plan, although Teixeira said persons have been assisting in their individual capacities.
“There are people who need help and they need it now, so they can’t wait on a policy document to decide how we treat with our own Guyanese people.”
But the Government MPS believe the opposition should also keeps in mind the challenges the government faces with persons crossing the border and not subjecting themselves to immigration.
The Ministry of Citizenship says only 477 Venezuelans arrived in Guyana up to April 2018 with Minister of Education Nicolette Henry saying that it is a process that requires work from several agencies to support returning Guyanese and Venezuelans seeking assistance. (by Kurt Campbell)