A Red Cross volunteer comforts a Venezuelan family who fled to Aruba. (Arie Kieviet/Red Cross photo)
THE HAGUE–The Netherlands Red Cross is very worried about the crisis situation in which many Venezuela refugees in Aruba and Curaçao find themselves. An increasing number of refugees are knocking on the door of the local Red Cross units to seek help.
The Red Cross stated in a press release on Tuesday that many Venezuelan refugees are out of options to feed themselves and often they urgently need medication. Many are homeless.
“We see heart-breaking situations. These people are continuously living in fear, uncertainty,” said Red Cross spokesperson Belinda van der Graag, who is currently in Aruba.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated in October last year that there are 16,000 persons from Venezuela living in Aruba and about 26,000 in Curaçao, mostly with illegal status. New refugees are arriving on a daily basis, and they are struggling to survive. Exploitation and human trade, including forced prostitution, are great risks.
According to the Red Cross, a number of pregnant women in need of urgent medical attention have reported at the Red Cross in Aruba. “The women had nowhere else to go. We have arranged medical assistance for them, but there are many more people in crisis,” said Van der Graag.
The Red Cross in Curaçao and Aruba helps the refugees with food, shelter and clothing. The organisation wants to increase the assistance on the islands. The humanitarian needs in Curaçao and Aruba are high due to the lack of (emergency) shelter and other basic necessities for refugees. The Red Cross anticipates that the number of vulnerable refugees will further increase because of the deteriorating economy in Curaçao.
The Red Cross started a national collection drive in the Netherlands last week. So far the collection has yielded a mere 106,000 euros, which is by far insufficient to assist the people in Venezuela and the Venezuelans who have fled to neighbouring countries and to the islands.
The United States (US) filed an official request at the authorities in Willemstad over the weekend to make use of Curaçao as a hub for humanitarian aid for Venezuela. It concerns food, water, medication and other relief goods for the people in Venezuela.
The Curaçao government in principle is willing to cooperate, but it has set a number of conditions: President Nicolás Maduro has to agree with the US assistance from Curaçao and the use of US military equipment is not allowed. This means that the Americans cannot use their own forward operations location (FOL) at Hato Airport for the airlift to Venezuela.
Venezuela did not allow four members of the European Parliament into the country over the weekend. The group, which included Member of Parliament (MP) Esther de Lange of the Dutch Christian Democratic Party CDA, was denied access at the airport in Caracas, and sent back on the first flight to Madrid, Spain.
“This is a great pity. We didn’t go to provoke. We came to see how medical aid to people in Venezuela is doing,” said De Lange.
Dutch Minister of Defence Ank Bijleveld-Schouten informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday that the Netherlands’ Military Intelligence Service MIVD is conducting an investigation into the political and socio-economic crisis in Venezuela and the possible effects thereof for the Kingdom.
The MIVD is carrying out this investigation together with the Dutch General Intelligence Service AIVD, Bijleveld-Schouten stated in a letter to the parliament regarding MIVD’s year plan 2019. She provided no details in her letter. The year plan itself is a state secret and the document is only provided to parliament’s Committee for Intelligence and Security Services.