Show compassion to Venezuelans, MP urges
Opposition MP Dr. Fuad Khan is appealing to Trinidadians to show compassion to the Venezuelan nationals who are fleeing their homeland due to an economic crisis.
His comments follow the revelation by Acting Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews that 150 to 200 Venezuelans are entering T&T by boat weekly and larger numbers are arriving illegally.
Gandhi-Andrews also noted that the number of Venezuelan nationals that had applied for asylum has significantly increased from five in 2016 to about 2000 presently.
In a statement, the Barataria/San Juan MP said neighbouring Venezuela has reached a breaking point, with lower oil prices, sanctions and economic mismanagement leading to the world’s highest inflation and spiralling indexes of poverty and malnutrition.
He said independent groups estimate that as many as three million to four million Venezuelans have abandoned their homes in recent years, with hundreds fleeing in the last year.
Khan noted that this country has become a temporary home to many of them.
He said as they flee to T&T, their situations must be taken into account.
“I am calling on citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and the government to recognise that our Venezuelan neighbours require special attention, much like the United States and European nations have done for those fleeing persecution.
As some of them flee to Trinidad, legally and illegally, we as a people must acknowledge that while their situation might be dire and as they seek refuge here, they must be treated with dignity and respect,” he said.
The Opposition MP added that the Government must pay closer attention to how it processes Venezuelans seeking asylum, understanding that the conditions at the Immigration Detention Centre at Aripo are not conducive to a standard of living appropriate to those fleeing.
“I am calling on the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to review its policy regarding the processing of Venezuelans claiming refugee status or seeking asylum.
For the most part, we should allow Venezuelans in Trinidad and Tobago to come out of the shadows, becoming productive visitors, hoping one day they can return to a Venezuela that has adjusted structurally, allowing for their citizens to earn a respectable living,” Khan said.
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