Brussels hosted 120 international delegations this week in a solidarity conference with Venezuelan refugees and migrants. Although it was not a donor conference, a support of 120 million euros was one of the results. Another was the promise of the creation of an international Group of Friends of the Quito Process and the organization of a prompt donor conference.
During the meeting – sponsored by the European Union, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR, the United Nations Agency for Refugees – the generosity of the countries of the region and their open arms policy were stressed. The focus was especially placed in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, the countries that most migrants and Venezuelan refugees register.
Why don’t we talk about Aruba?
“But why don’t we talk about my country, Aruba, Santo Domingo and the other islands?” Asks Guillfred Besaril, plenipotentiary minister to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Aruba, an autonomous country that is part of the Netherlands, At the moment it registers 16,000 Venezuelans.
In absolute terms, this figure is negligible compared to the 1.7 million Venezuelans currently in Colombian territory. However, on an island of 180 square kilometers, with a population of 120,000 inhabitants, “this immigration puts a great pressure on Aruba,” Besaril continues.
On this Dutch-speaking island, just 25 kilometers from the Venezuelan western coast, the massive flow began three years ago. Meanwhile, they are 13% of the population. “Until now we have been able to absorb the flow. But if we don’t do something, in a year we will be in serious trouble,” he emphasizes.
Problems? “Yes. In the construction of houses, for example. We are an island, we are surrounded by water, we cannot remove more land. We have only one medical center, we cannot assure the medical care of more people,” Besaril replies.
“Our labor market is also very limited,” the Caribbean politician continues. “We have always welcomed the Latino community – from Colombia, from Peru, from Santo Domingo. In the construction and hotel industry there was space. Today, all those positions are filled by Venezuelans, ”he adds.
As a member of the Netherlands, Aruba has had other sources of assistance, both technical and security. However, the situation for the island may become unsustainable. The imposition of visas – to control whether who enters as a tourist does not stay in the country – is one of the measures that would have to be taken soon. “We need more assistance,” Besaril claims.
“We can’t anymore”
That Peru announces that it has the capacity to incorporate 18,000 Venezuelan doctors – once the titles are matched – is a good measure for Besaril. Unfortunately, that is not the case in your country.
“The first migratory flow of the most prepared people has been received by neighboring countries, especially Colombia, Panama, Miami, and New York and Texas in the US. We have had the second phase: we are facing desperate people “Not necessarily unprepared,” who cries out for help. And so far we have welcomed them, but we are reaching a point where we can no more, “he says.