Over 41,000 Venezuelan Migrants Are Now In Two Caribbean Nations Alone

Ruth Navarro and her daughter, Stephani, both Venezuelan, wait for a bus on the outskirts of Port of Spain, Trinidad. (Jim Wyss/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Feb. 13, 2020: An estimated 41,300 Venezuelans have migrated to just two CARICOM nations alone as of the end of 2019, according to latest UN figures analyzed by News Americas.

UNICEF’s latest ‘Migration flows in Latin America and the Caribbean,’ situation report, released Wednesday, showed that the number of migrants from Venezuela to Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago were surpassing the capacities of the countries and “further straining already vulnerable host communities.”

In 2019, about 24,300 Venezuelans were estimated to be living in Trinidad and Tobago and the figures are projected to increase to 33,400 in 2020. Children reportedly represent about 10 per cent of that number.

By the end of 2019, it was estimated that Guyana had received 17,000 Venezuelan migrants with approximately 30 percent being children. The UN says it estimates Guyana could see 31,000 new migrants by the end of 2020, which will represent a four percent increase of Guyana’s total population of 750,000.

In T&T, UNICEF found that access to education remains a challenge as migrant children are not able to gain admittance to the national education system in the twin-island Republic. Additionally, the increase in detention and deportation has hindered migrants from seeking basic social services, including social welfare and protection services.

Trinidad and Tobago is the one country that requires a child to have a regular immigration status to enroll in school, which means that most Venezuelan migrant children in the country are not enrolled in school, the Migration Policy Institute.

In Guyana, it was found that many Venezuelan migrants face challenges due to the language barrier and the remoteness of the locations they settled in – mainly in the border hinterland areas which have the poorest socio-economic conditions, including the lowest health and wellbeing indicators for children.

While Venezuelans are required to present passports and visas in order to enter Guyana, the government has instructed officers at ports of entry to also allow Venezuelans to enter after presenting an identity document or, if they do not have one, after the officer records their names, a Migration Policy Institute report, said. It added that Guyana’s constitution provides for equal access to education for everyone in the country, but this right has not been codified in law.

About 3.9 million Venezuelans have moved elsewhere in Latin America or the Caribbean over the past few years, making this the second largest displacement crisis in the world after the Syrian one. Even as the Venezuelan exodus has quickened markedly since 2017, about 80,000 to 100,000 Nicaraguans have fled to Costa Rica amid rising domestic political repression.