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Sunday 26 May 2019
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Refugees International commends Rowley

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

Refugees International (RI), a Washington, DC-based advocacy group, has commended the Prime Minister for his recent announcement that the government is working to grant Venezuelans work permits and access to education.

Refugees International president Eric Schwartz said, “I applaud the Prime Minister’s expressed commitment to work toward regularising the status of Venezuelans by creating new policies that will improve the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable people seeking refuge on the islands. We urge the Trinidadian government to take action not only with respect to Venezuelans, but also to grant opportunities to those of other nationalities to regularize their status.”

Venezuelans and other refugees and asylum seekers in TT currently have no legal status and live under the constant threat of arrest, detention, and deportation, RI said.

On Monday, RI released a report about the conditions of Venezuelans living in TT, after a visit by a team in November 2018.

“Based on interviews with UN officials, NGO workers, community leaders, and displaced Venezuelans in Trinidad, (the report contained) policy recommendations for the government of TT, the UN, and the international community on how to improve its response to the Venezuelan displacement crisis,” RI said.

The status quo is unacceptable, the release added, so the news that the PM is working to grant Venezuelans the right to work and an education is a positive step in the right direction.

“As the crisis in their region deepens, the government must consider long-term migration policies and enact legislation on refugees and asylum,” said RI report author and expert on displacement crises Melanie Teff.

RI looks forward to the prime minister introducing these new policies, and for TT to set an example for how other Caribbean countries can respond to the Venezuelan displacement crisis, the group said.

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