MORE THAN 50 children who braved crossing the Columbus Channel from Venezuela to be reunited with their families already in Trinidad and Tobago were turned away by TT armed forces and made to face uncertainties back in their homeland.
Responding to questions from Newsday, the UN High Commission for Refugees said that before the 16 children who were deported on Sunday along with nine women, they were aware of at least 39 children who had been returned since the beginning of the year.
“TT has regularly returned the Venezuelans it considers arriving irregularly in the country,” the UNHCR said.
The commission expressed concern that the children would now face heightened risks including the risk of being trafficked, exposure to covid19 and other unsafe situations, given the circumstances in Venezuela.
Recognising the challenge that TT and other states face managing the movement of people, especially with the added uncertainty of covid19, the UNHCR still pleaded with government to allow Venezuelans access.
“As a signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), TT has the responsibility to protect children, including the right to be reunited with family members.” it said.
On Sunday, after being detained in TT waters on Tuesday, the 16 children and nine women were put in two unregistered boats and escorted out of TT waters.
While they were in TT attorneys filed writs of habeas corpus to prevent their deportation. On Sunday night Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams ordered the Chief of Defence Staff to bring them to court. They were still deported.