Member of the European Parliament Samira Rafaela.
STRASBOURG–Recently elected Member of the European Parliament Samira Rafaela of the Dutch Democratic Party D66 during her first plenary debate in Strasbourg on Wednesday sought attention for the effects of the crisis in Venezuela on the Dutch Caribbean islands. She addressed European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos on Thursday.
Rafaela, who is of Dutch Caribbean descent, urged the European Commission to take action to provide assistance to the member states’ territories in the Caribbean in dealing with the Venezuelan refugees and migrants. Rafaela sent a letter to Avramopoulos following the European Parliament’s motion regarding Venezuela.
“The European Parliament today adopted with broad support a resolution on the situation in Venezuela. Among the issues raised in this resolution is the challenge faced by member states’ territories in the Caribbean to receive those fleeing the crisis in Venezuela,” Rafaela stated in her letter.
“As Europeans, we need to live up to our laws and moral standards, and therefore make sure that we humanely and effectively receive them. The European Union should not overlook the developing humanitarian migration crisis in the Caribbean, right at our doorstep. As I have witnessed myself in the Dutch Caribbean, what is needed mostly is additional assistance and expertise.
“As I expressed earlier this week in a plenary meeting of the European Parliament, I call upon the Commission to take action and to provide such help.”
Rafaela specifically asked Commissioner Avramopoulos to allocate funding under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund to build capacities of local authorities in the Caribbean parts of the member states.
She further requested sending experts of the European Asylum Support Office to help provide expertise on reception and asylum procedures. She asked Avramopoulos to come up with alternatives if he deemed these actions impossible.
The resolution the European Parliament adopted on Thursday called for additional sanctions regarding Venezuela. It expressed full support for “legitimate interim President” Juan Guaidó and the Venezuela National Assembly, and for holding sitting President Nicolás Maduro directly responsible for the “indiscriminate use of violence” against the Venezuela people.
The resolution called for restricting movement and freezing the assets of those responsible for the crisis. It drew attention to the increasingly serious migration crisis across the entire region and praised the efforts of and solidarity shown by neighbouring countries, especially Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
The resolution requested that the Commission continue to cooperate with these countries, not only by providing humanitarian assistance, but also by providing more resources and through development policy.
More than 7 million people in Venezuela are in need of humanitarian assistance, as the Maduro government has violated the right to food, including the state’s obligation to ensure that the population is free from hunger. According to the United Nations, 3.7 million Venezuelans are malnourished, 94 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line and 62 per cent in extreme poverty.
The health situation in the country is dire, with hospitals lacking staff, supplies, medicines and electricity, resulting in at least 1,557 deaths between November 2018 and February 2019. There are 60 to 100 per cent shortages essential drugs in four of Venezuela’s major cities, including Caracas.
More than 3.4 million Venezuelans have had to flee the country, and the total number of Venezuelans forced to migrate will have surpassed five million by the end of 2019, making this the second biggest migrant and refugee crisis in the world. This migration flow is putting particular pressure on neighbouring countries, but also increasingly on the European Union and on EU member states’ territories in the Caribbean.