Caribbean islands can expect greater influx of Venezuelans
WILLEMSTAD - Aruba and Curaçao must be prepared for even more refugees from Venezuela. In Aruba, Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago together there are now an estimated 147,000 Venezuelan migrants. That number will rise to 220,000 next year, the UN refugee organization UNHCR expects.
Venezuela, which is only a few miles from Aruba and Curaçao, is in a deep economic crisis. Inflation is high and there are shortages of food and medicines. Undersecretary of Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Friday that there are currently no indications for a large migrant flow to both islands.
The authors of the report have calculated that 650 million euros are needed to cover the total of three million Venezuelans who are on the run next year. The care in Curaçao, Aruba, the Dominican Republic and Guyana will cost 31 million euros.
Currently, refugees from Venezuela are not being sheltered in Curaçao. The government says there is no money for that. An estimated 12,000 Venezuelans live in hiding on the island for fear of being deported. Curaçao has not signed the international refugee treaty and arrests every illegal Venezuelan they find. Then the Venezuelans are deported as quickly as possible. Last year there were more than 1200.
The UNHCR had an island representative in Curaçao until last month, but she has been expelled by the government. Her replacement is in Aruba and will not get a work permit in Willemstad.
Curaçao thinks that the UN refugee organization abuses its mandate by granting Venezuelans refugee status without consultation.
By Dick Dryer