Slight increase in Venezuelan migrants

THE HAGUE–Authorities have noticed a slight increase in the number of migrants from Venezuela to the Dutch Caribbean, but there is no mass migration, Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday.

The number of Venezuelans who try to illegally enter Aruba and Curaçao in search of temporary employment, who return to their country after a while, stated Plasterk, who didn’t expect that a further deterioration of the situation in the South-American country would result in a mass migration to the islands. The Venezuelans are expected to move to other parts of their country, or to migrate to neighbouring countries Brazil and Colombia.

The Minister provided an overview of the situation in response to written questions submitted by Member of the Second Chamber Sjoerd Sjoerdsma of the Democratic Party D66 in January this year. Sjoerdsma had sought clarity following numerous media reports about illegal Venezuelan immigrants trying to enter Aruba and Curaçao. He voiced his concerns about the reported increase and the effects on the islands’ small economies.

The Kingdom does prepare for an increasing migration, stated Plasterk. There is a Task Force in Curaçao, and the situation was discussed with the Governments of Aruba and Curaçao during the most recent visit of Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders. The Dutch Caribbean and the Netherlands have been making preparations for the possible reception of Venezuelan immigrants, including the drafting of crisis plans.

Also discussed was the contact with third countries and international organisations such as International Organisation for Migration IOM and United Nations High Committee for Refugees (UNHCR) to fine-tune the crisis plans.

The Dutch Caribbean countries are primarily responsible for creating facilities for the immigrants, but they may request support from the Kingdom Government if the problem becomes too big to handle on their own. The islands can also make use of expertise from the Netherlands.

Plasterk assured that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard, the Directorates of Foreign Affairs on the islands and relevant organisations in Aruba and Curaçao remain alert and are in frequent contact about the situation. “Measures have been taken, including the intensifying of patrols and stricter border controls.”

Plasterk referred to the situation in Venezuela as “very worrisome.” “Because of political tensions, huge economic and humanitarian challenges remain unaddressed. The solution for this isn’t further political escalation, but the willingness for dialogue and reform, with respect for democratic principles and the separation of powers.”

Source: The Daily Herald