Published On: Thu, Mar 15th, 2018

Kingdom must assist in Curaçao with the issue of Venezuelan refugees

Coast GuardWILLEMSTAD - “If the Venezuelan refugee situation escalates, then the Kingdom of the Netherlands should automatically assume its responsibility for Curaçao.” This is according to Lesley Fer, Risk Management & Disaster Policy Director for Curaçao.

The United Nations has declared the situation in Venezuela this week as a humanitarian crisis. Fer warns that a “destabilizing situation is created if we go over our capacity and cannot return illegal Venezuelans.”

Costs per refugee

According to Fer, the government will then have to pay about 250 guilders per day per refugee. This is for basic costs such as food and housing, which also includes medical care, education and employment. “We have great challenges in terms of finance, location, knowledge and capacity to deal with a humanitarian crisis.”

The spokesman for the UNHCR - UN Commission on Refugees - Aikaterini Kitidi spoke at a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday of a humanitarian crisis. According to Kitidi, more than hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have already left their country for political and economic reasons. They reside in different asylum countries without documentation.

UN refugee treaty not signed

The UNHCR statement is important because it has asked its members to give Venezuelans access to the procedures for refugees in their countries. Earlier, Prime Minister Eugene Rhuggenaath stated that the Curaçao government, for economic and financial reasons, cannot sign the UN convention for refugees at the moment.

Former Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Ronald Plasterk, stated in September that the Netherlands cannot do much, as long as Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro denies that there is a humanitarian crisis.

'Kingdom needs to assist'

The Curaçao Minister of Justice Quincy Girigorie filed two requests for financial aid and manpower with the Dutch government last year. After the declaration of the UNHCR, there is a rush for these requests, says the minister. “After several risk analyzes, it appears that we have the capacity to help only 250 people for a duration of three months. So the Kingdom needs to step in,” the minister emphasizes.

The minister says that a detention center will be built with a capacity for 50 people. Girigorie does not want to confirm the place yet, but he did indicate that the construction would cost 285,000 guilders, in addition to the operational costs that will amount to approximately 1.2 million guilders per year.

Expansion of barracks

Girigorie also indicates that 52,000 guilders have been made available to repair the prison barracks and that the capacity has tripled to a hundred people. According to Girigorie, the costs for the government are currently 50 guilders per day for each illegal, because the prison facility is used.

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