More efforts needed to better integrate migrant children into Guyanese society – Speaker

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

By: Nathifa Punch

As the country continues to see an influx of migrants including minors, House Speaker Manzoor Nadir is calling for more national efforts to better integrate them into the Guyanese society.

He was at the time delivering remarks following the handing over of annual reports from the Rights of the Child Commission (RCC). These reports will be tabled in the National Assembly.

“Guyana can’t turn away these kids. We have to do everything in our power to ensure we can afford them the opportunity that is enshrined in their rights, regardless if they are coming over the border legally or not,” he posited.

In fact, the House Speaker reminded that in the past, thousands of Guyanese would have sought refuge in other countries, and, would have benefited significantly.

“In spite of the fact that we may be a little better off financially today, we now can’t shut our doors. We now have to open our hearts bigger to every single one,” Nadir expressed.

“If there is something we can do today, is to appeal to every single one, register your child. If not, you’re creating more headaches for them later down. It’s schooling, its vaccination, it’s their future. So let us start with registering our child, and if we can help those persons who are coming across the borders with their registration, then let us do it,” he added.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Rosemary Benjamin-Noble noted that the Government had made a pledge in 2010 to have 100% birth registration of these migrants. This, she noted, is one of the recommendations the RCC has continued to emphasise.

The Education Ministry has disclosed that some 740 Venezuelan children between the ages of 5 and 16 were enrolled in the public education system in April and May 2019.

Regions One, Two, and Three were the regions that recorded the largest numbers of school enrollment among the refugee children, recording 187, 138, and 196 respectively.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), statistics in December 2020, there are currently over 22,000 Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Guyana.

In April this year, Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud disclosed that Guyana, in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IMO), would be drafting a migration policy for those Guyanese who have returned to Guyana from Venezuela. According to Persaud, that migration policy would provide an environment in which the migrants can be reintegrated into society.