THOUGH in unfamiliar territory, indigenous Venezuelan migrants at Mabaruma have been offered parcels of land by residents on which to resettle.
The Warrau population of approximately 103 persons have been camping out at Khan’s Hill, a small, sparsely populated community outside the North West District town. Some have also settled at White Water village close to the border with Venezuela.
Leomie Willis, the community development officer attached to the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, has been busy tending to the migrants. She told the Guyana Chronicle that having lived among the tribe in Venezuela; she is familiar with their way of life.
She also told the Guyana Chronicle that lands have been given to the group by the village leader at Khan’s Hill, Ernest Santiago for the group to adopt.
“I also learnt that Mr. Monty Broomes [Mabaruma businessman] gave them a piece of place behind the Mabaruma Compound, closer to the water,” she added. She said the migrants have been leaving Khan’s Hill by foot, walking for several miles to the Aruka River to fish.
“Close to the water is good for them because it will be better for them to fish,” Willis, who was on her way to provide fish and other food stuff to the migrants, told the Guyana Chronicle.
Willis, who played a pivotal role in the migrants settling at Khan’s Hill, said the migrants were medically examined and according to her, within the group are several persons who are willing to earn a living “trying to help themselves.” However, she said some are still dependent on the authorities to feed and clothe them.
At the business community of Kumaka, the migrants can be seen searching for odd jobs even as residents of the area provide assistance in whatever way possible. Other Venezuelan nationals have been working and setting up small businesses such as stalls at Kumaka. It was noted by residents that a number of Venezuelans of Guyanese heritage have returned to the area.
The Guyana Government has been distributing food items and other supplies to assist the migrants through various organisations such as the Civil Defence Commission (CDC).
This past week the CDC visited Mabaruma and with the assistance of the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana Defence Force and the Regional Democratic Council of Region One (Barima/Waini), conducted a distribution exercise to assist the migrants.
CDC Head, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, told the Guyana Chronicle that 46 non-food hampers and 36 food hampers were distributed to the migrants at Khan’s Hill outside Mabaruma as well as at White Water Village and Gajah landing near the indigenous village.
The food hampers were distributed to the CDC by DeSinco Trading while the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) also provided hampers.
Craig said a new group of migrants entered White Water village this past week and the
CDC has advised the Ministry of Public Health to conduct normal screening procedures, including vaccinations. He said another relief exercise if planned for the region in the new week.
Meanwhile, Willis said the authorities at Mabaruma have expressed concern about the incidence of prostitution which she noted has been observed and linked to the migrants at Kumaka.
She said that the migrants have been informed by the regional authorities about the act, noting that the otherwise peaceful communities within the sub-region are mindful of prostitution and the negative impact, including health impacts, which it brings.