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Venezuelans Receive Free Legal Advice, Medical Attention in the Dominican Republic

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550 Venezuelan refugee and migrant recently arrived at the Dominican Republic was offered free access to medical services, legal advice and guidance on migration issues. © IOM / Zinnia Martínez

Santo Domingo – At the Social Integration Fair held at the facilities of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo – the first of its kind – 550 Venezuelan refugees and migrants recently arrived in the Dominican Republic received access to medical services and legal advice on migration issues. The cost to them: nothing.

The event was organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) together with the Colonia Foundation of Venezuelans in the Dominican Republic (FUNCOVERD) and funded by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).

During the one-day fair, Venezuelans were offered access to services in pediatrics, gynecology, dentistry and ophthalmology through the Health Unit of the Dominican Ministry of Defense, the Robert Reid Hospital, the Pastoral Care of Health. A total of 31 volunteer doctors and specialists also lent their expertise, while IOM provided legal advice and guidance on migration issues.

“I thank everyone, on behalf of the entire Venezuelan migrant population, for joining us in this fair, which is an open door in the Dominican Republic to advance on issues of cohesion and human rights,” said Miguel Otaiza, president of FUNCONVERD, adding: "The foundation continues making efforts towards building a better future. Thanks, too, for the continual support of the Dominican State and its people."

Many of the new arrivals from Venezuela were looking to resolve doubts over regularization mechanisms available to them. Access to housing in the country was also a concern, as were questions about starting a business, how to make tax payments and other issues.

"The important thing is that this small example shows how the Venezuelan population is being integrated into Dominican society and is looking for mechanisms to solve their main needs, one of which is access to health services," explained Jorge Baca Vaughan, IOM’s Chief of Mission in the Dominican Republic.

As of April 2019, IOM estimates approximately 3.7 million people have left Venezuela. According to data from immigration authorities and other sources, Latin American and Caribbean countries have received around 3 million Venezuelans, of which 28,500 are currently living in these neighbouring countries.

The event was held within the framework of the Regional Refugee Migrant Response Plan (RMRP) with the participation of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Dominican Institute for Integral Development, the Attorney General's Office of the Republic, the General Directorate of Taxes, the Ministry of Women, the Ombudsman's Office, the National Institute of Migration and the Bar Association.

For more information please contact Zinnia Martínez at IOM Dominican Republic, Tel: +1 809 688 8174, Email: