Trinidad and Tobago to Take Steps to Increase Protections for Displaced Venezuelans

Refugees International welcomes the comments by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley of Trinidad and Tobago this week that his government is working to grant Venezuelans on the islands the right to work and to an education. Venezuelans and other refugees and asylum seekers on the islands currently have no legal status. They live under the constant threat of arrest, detention, and deportation.

“I applaud the prime minister’s expressed commitment to work toward regularizing the status of Venezuelans by creating new policies that will improve the lives of tens of thousands of vulnerable people seeking refuge on the islands. We urge the Trinidadian government to take action not only with respect to Venezuelans, but also to grant opportunities to those of other nationalities to regularize their status,” said Refugees International President Eric Schwartz.                                                         

In November 2018, a Refugees International team traveled to Trinidad and Tobago to assess the situation of Venezuelans on the islands. Based on interviews with UN officials, NGO workers, community leaders, and displaced Venezuelans in Trinidad, Refugees International issued a report on Monday, January 28, with policy recommendations for the government of Trinidad and Tobago, the UN, and the international community on how to improve its response to the Venezuelan displacement crisis.

“After speaking with Venezuelan asylum seekers and refugees in Trinidad, it quickly became clear that the status quo is unacceptable. The news that the prime minister is working to grant Venezuelans the right to work and an education is a positive step in the right direction. As the crisis in their region deepens, the government must consider long-term migration policies and enact legislation on refugees and asylum,” said RI report author and expert on displacement crises, Melanie Teff.

Refugees International looks forward to the prime minister introducing these new policies, and for Trinidad and Tobago to set an example for how other Caribbean countries can respond to the Venezuelan displacement crisis.