European Union funds for Trinidad and Tobago in dealing with Venezuelan refugees

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Illegal Venezuelan nationals arriving by boat in Trinidad and Tobago (File Photo)

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The European Union says it has approved Euro 2.7 million (One Euro=US 1.29 cents) for the protection, education, and health of Venezuelan refugees and migrant children in Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Peru.

A statement posted on the Delegation of the European Union to Trinidad and Tobago said that the EU’s humanitarian aid department had approved the funds, the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECH0).

The project will run until March 31, 2022, and the implementing partner is the United Nations Children’s Fund.

“Venezuela is experiencing a difficult socio-economic situation, and as a result, more than 5.2 million Venezuelans now live outside of the country, with the numbers growing strongly over the last year,” said Chargé d’Affaires for the EU Delegation in Trinidad and Tobago, Sanjin Soldatic.

He said the legal status of Venezuelans, which determines their right to work and access essential services, varies across the region.

“Consequently, migration is placing significant pressures on institutions, service provision systems, the labor market, and the social dynamics of the receiving countries in a time of COVID. This includes the overflow of demand for services such as health, housing, education, social protection, and water and sanitation, among others. These are precisely the areas in which the EU seeks to improve the standard of living of refugee and migrant children,” Soldatic said.

In addition to this project to help children, the EU is currently implementing two projects in Trinidad and Tobago that address the day-to-day challenges faced by refugees and migrants from Venezuela, as well as the host communities:

The statement said that the “Response to Recovery – COVID-19: Reducing Vulnerability: Enhancing Resilience for Migrant Population” project has been implemented as part of the Team Europe response to COVID-19 through a direct grant to the Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society.

The aim is to provide support to the migrant population, who do not have access to the social protection measures. The project is co-financed by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

“Fostering local communities of solidarity for refugees and migrants from Venezuela” is being implemented over the next three years in six countries, namely Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Dominican Republic, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago, for Euro16 million.

This project is being implemented by UN-Habitat, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the International Organization for Migration.

“It is designed to show that migrants and refugees can make a real contribution to socio-economic and cultural diversity in their host cities and communities. With sound, inclusive urban planning and action that gives migrants and refugees a voice and a chance to participate, urban communities can promote intercultural dialogue, social cohesion, and integration. The project seeks to help build strategies that local authorities can implement to this effect,” the EU statement added.

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