An estimated 40,000 Venezuelans are living in this country although the numbers seeking political asylum remain low, says Rochelle Nakhid, coordinator of the non-governmental organisation Living Waters Foundation’s Ministry for Migrants and Refugees.
The number of asylum seekers is low, she added, because they may not have information about how to go about seeking asylum.
“We are not seeing a change in the situation in Venezuela and we certainly are not going to see any decrease in the numbers of Venezuelans coming to our shores any time soon,” she said.
Nakhid was one of several panelists who took part on Tuesday in the “Regional Perspectives on the Venezuelan Crisis” hosted by the Institute of International Relations at the University of the West Indies St Augustine campus.
Noting there was no actual figure for the number of Venezuelans in TT, Nakhid said, it was estimated that by the end of 2015, there was less than 20,000, by 2016 the number had increased and at the time the number has increased to about 40,000. This figure, she said, was based on official and non official sources, as some people may have entered the country through officials ports of entry while others did so through the country’s porous borders.
This increase in numbers was due, she said, to the breakdown in democracy and gross human rights violations that have resulted in a massive displacement of Venezuelans in the region, with large numbers also moving to Curacao and Aruba. Venezuelans are not the only immigrants to the region, she said.
There has been an increase in the number of Syrians, Bangladeshis, and Cubans seeking asylum as well, she said.
She said Venezuelans are the second largest group, after the Cubans, seeking asylum in TT. With the number of Cubans seeking asylum due to reach a plateau, Nakhid said, it is expected that the number of Venezuelans seeking political asylum will exceed the Cubans next year.