Guyana to safeguard social wellbeing of Venezuelan migrants

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Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton

By Kellon Rover

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – Minister of labour, Joseph Hamilton announced that the government of Guyana remains committed to ensuring the social wellbeing of Venezuelan migrants while they are residing in Guyana.

“The ministry is also keen on protecting the migrants, ensuring that they are paid fairly for their labour,” minister Hamilton said, while addressing a webinar last Wednesday, hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to launch the first pilot project to reduce the socioeconomic vulnerabilities of Venezuelan migrants.”

The Zoom meeting saw regional representatives discussing strategies to maximise contributions to the economies of recipient countries to foster unity. One objective of the new strategy is to turn migration into a factor for sustainable development.

“The government of Guyana plans to lay before the ILO and the UNDP a holistic programme because many of the ministries will have to participate in the development of the project. Beginning with the ministry of home affairs, who will have to deal with the issue of them being in the country legally and allowing for work permits,” minister Hamilton said.

The minister said there are three categories of migrants coming from the neighbouring country. These include:

  1. Guyanese who are returning after decades living abroad;
  2. Children who were born to Guyanese parents; and,
  3. Venezuelans.

Going forward, the minister noted that the three categories of migrants would be monitored closely to ascertain their specific needs since their demands are different.

“The government as a whole, is committed to this strategy. The government would do everything that it can, in every sub-sector and agency, to ensure that the Venezuelan migrants are welcomed here; to ensure that their social condition does not deteriorate while they are in Guyana. As Guyanese, we see it as an obligation, because every Guyanese have a relative living in some country as a migrant, and therefore, we understand the importance of opening the doors; the importance of ensuring that migrants feel comfortable and safe, and they can develop a life for themselves and families in Guyana like Guyanese have done throughout the world,” minister Hamilton added.

He said the government wants all migrants to be treated equally by their employers, noting that they must enjoy the same health benefits as others at worksites.

“We at the ministry of labour recognise the influx of migrants. We have started a programme where all our Labour Officers and our Occupation Safety and Health Officers have to study a foreign language, so that they can properly interact with the migrant and must be able to speak their language well. They have started Spanish,” minister Hamilton said.

The minister referenced the ministry of human services and social security, the garment and accessories cottage industry initiative, which aims to provide entrepreneurial opportunities for the women migrants.

Minister Hamilton added that his ministry is willing to partner with the ILO and UNDP to offer training to the migrants through the Board of Industrial Training which, he noted, is the premier institute for technical and vocational training in Guyana.

Meanwhile, UNDP regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Luis Felipe López Calva, and ILO regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Vinícius Pinheiro, also presented their plans and objectives of the strategy.

While Guyana and Colombia are the first countries in which the initiative was implemented, it was noted that other nations will benefit from similar programmes.

Both the UNDP and the ILO have indicated that the strategy “is aimed at the main host countries of the refugee and migrant population from Venezuela.”

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