• By 31 March, COVID-19 cases in Aruba had doubled. In Curaçao, COVID-19 infections climbed approximately 78% since the last reporting period. Trinidad & Tobago’s Chief Medical Officer stated the country might be on the verge of a significant increase in COVID-19 cases with the appearance of clusters. Guyana and the Dominican Republic also reported that numbers of COVID-19 cases significantly rose in March1 .
• The government of Aruba established stricter measures related to curfews and limitations to public gatherings. By 15 March, 50% of the medical staff from the Aruban hospital that serves the whole island, had received the COVID-19 vaccine. During the third week of March, local authorities detected Venezuelans entering irregularly during police exercises geared at general controls. Furthermore, borders with Venezuela will remain closed for three more months. The authorities will re-visit this decision around 10 May.
• Separately, in mid-March, the Curaçao Minister of Justice announced that undocumented persons residing irregularly in Curaçao for more than a year and meeting certain conditions, can apply for a residence permit. This is particularly relevant for refugees and migrants (R&Ms) who entered Curaçao legally before 13 March 2020 who now have a job and those with children who go to school. Additionally, general elections took place in on 19 March 2021, two days after the 2021 Dutch general election. R4V partners continue monitoring whether any refugee and migrant-related policies might be affected under the new government.
• In the Dominican Republic, a revised curfew order was issued nationwide on 3 March. The regularization process of R&Ms is expected to take place amidst COVID restrictions. Meanwhile R4V partners collaborated with a partner media house on an awareness campaign so Venezuelans could be informed on the various steps involved in the regularization process. R4V partners also worked with Venezuelan community-based organizations to open seven Help Desks by the start of April, which will be available in major cities across the DR with the highest density of Venezuelans, to ensure that applicants can access reliable information and legal guidance.
• Guyana confirmed they will receive enough COVID-19 vaccines to immunize the entire adult population, including R&Ms in the country. On another note, government agencies embarked on a three-year national action plan which included workshops to identify and eliminate trafficking in persons2 .
• In March, the T&T authorities confirmed that any Venezuelan who is repatriated, even if previously registered with the Government, would have to apply for a visa and exemptions to return. Additionally, Venezuelans previously registered in the June 2019 government exercise, were invited to do a re-registration exercise, requiring them to update their detailsto be granted six-month extensions on their stay permits. The Ministry of National Security reported that on 29 March, approximately 13,800 Venezuelans from the eligible 16,523 participated in the exercise, which ran from 8 March to 26 March, and was extended until 9 April. Refugees and asylum-seekers from other nationalities and Venezuelans arriving in Trinidad and Tobago after June 2019 remain undocumented and at risk of detention and deportation.
• One R4V lead agency was interviewed on a local TV station about GBV and R&M Women in T&T. Additionally, results of the December 2020 round of the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM)3 which reached 950 Venezuelans were released. An interview on the findings revealed areas where the country made improvements but also highlighted that during the pandemic, many Venezuelans lacked life-saving services.