N Touch
Monday 16 September 2019
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Editorial

Forgotten children

TWO RECENT interventions, by State officials and international agencies, have provided welcome support to children in need, highlighting the plight of those often left at the margins of public consideration: refugee children and children of the victims of crime.

The High Court will tomorrow consider the dramatic case of two Venezuelan asylum seekers whose deportation was blocked by Justice Ricky Rahim, raising, yet again, important procedural questions in relation to a humanitarian catastrophe, the complexities of which are still emerging.

The Venezuelan refugee crisis has triggered heated debate, engaging questions of national patrimony, history, the economy, human rights and the limits of humanitarianism. The Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of National Security, the Police Service — all have been engaged over the course of years in the arduous management of this complex policy issue.

Yet, the plight of Venezuelan children, caught between two worlds and languages, has not exercised the public’s attention as much as it should.

The collaborative effort by the European Union (EU), the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) and the Freely Give Foundation, an NGO, fill a gap in the State’s policymaking.

“Our objective is to help humanity and now Venezuelan children need us and we are working to give them the best deal,” said Giselle Cox, president of the six-year old foundation last week at its premises in Longdenville, Chaguanas. The foundation currently serves 35 Venezuelan and 20 Trinidadian children.

They undergo a program with mixed English and Spanish elements. There are two bilingual teachers, Venezuelan Maigualida Velasquez and Cuban Bettssy Nieves. The project acknowledges the precarious position all refugee children find themselves in through no fault of their own.

"It is currently the Venezuelan children who need more attention because of the political, economic and social situation in their country, but we are keeping an eye on all the immigrants in Trinidad and Tobago," said EU Ambassador Aad Biesebroek.

“We are working with UNHCR to support Venezuelans and Unicef with resources to help children enter the social system through educational organisations.” This program should be deepened and supported, whether by the State or civil society.

In a similar vein, the recent support extended to the children of the victims of crime must be welcomed. The counseling, support and school supplies given to the children of two of the seven fishermen must not be a flash in the pan intervention.

Hopefully it is a sign of the consistent application of policies and procedures designed to fulfill our collective responsibility; to be our brother’s keeper.

The Arya Pratinidhi Sabha and officials of the Ministry of Education who have embarked on this course have started the ball rolling. They must keep up the momentum. Over time, it really takes a village to raise a child.

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