Trinidad and Tobago + 1 more

RMRP 2020 - Trinidad and Tobago (January 2020)

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Strategic Response Priorities

  1. Advocate with authorities to continue the registration process and the provision of documentation to refugees and migrants from Venezuela.

  2. Strengthen systems to identify vulnerable individuals, persons with specific needs and children in need of protection, including those not registered with the government.

  3. Support and build upon existing community-based protection mechanisms/interventions.

  4. Foster social cohesion and local integration opportunities through a community-based approach. This includes the promotion of employment opportunities and development of bilingual programs and campaigns to combat xenophobia and discrimination.

  5. Strengthen protection capacities to ensure that refugees and migrants have access to legal remedies.

  6. Provide emergency assistance and improve access to essential services, including food and non-food items, shelter and health care.

  7. Expand, promote and strengthen education programs for refugee and migrant children and youth.

Situation

The worsening socio-economic, political, human rights and humanitarian conditions in Venezuela have led to the outflow of over 24,000 refugees and migrants from Venezuela to Trinidad and Tobago. The impact of the arrival of increasing numbers of Venezuelans seeking safety and international protection in Trinidad and Tobago has been considerable, taking into account the limited size and absorption capacity of the country.

In June 2019, the Government conducted a two-week registration exercise that allowed Venezuelan nationals the opportunity to apply for regular status, including those who entered irregularly or overstayed. Those registered were granted permission to work for six months, which has been automatically extended by the Government for another six months. 16,523 Venezuelans over the age of 16 were successfully registered during this exercise, along with 2,421 children.

The introduction of a visa requirement for Venezuelans at the end of the government-led regularization process has significantly restricted legal pathways for Venezuelans seeking to access Trinidad and Tobago, leading to an increase in the number of irregular arrivals. Venezuelans who attempt to enter the country irregularly are exposed to significant protection risks, including human trafficking and smuggling as well as detention and deportation.

Despite efforts to promote social cohesion, the socio-economic integration of Venezuelans in Trinidad and Tobago is faced with obstacles such as language barriers and the lack of recognition of professional certificates and diplomas from Venezuela. Further, access to specialized health care is limited and Venezuelan children and youth face administrative barriers in accessing the local education system. Labor and sexual exploitation, stigma and xenophobia are also among the main obstacles preventing integration. To address some of these challenges, partners will prioritize activities that promote social cohesion through interventions targeting both Venezuelans and host communities in 2020.