GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Tuesday May 14, 2109 – The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with stakeholders in Guyana as it continues to expand its partnership on protecting migrant Venezuelan children.
The document was signed yesterday between UNICEF and the Ministry of the Presidency’s Department of Citizenship, the Guyana Legal Aid Clinic, Help and Shelter, Blossoms Inc. and the Regional Executive Offices in Regions 1 and 4, to forge greater partnerships with both government and non-government agencies to strengthen its support for Venezuelan migrants and their host communities.
The document includes supporting efforts to ensure documentation of migrant children, support on access to services for sexually abused children, and ensuring access to referral services for legal aid and violence prevention and response with the Guyana Legal Aid Clinic, and the Help and Shelter Organization.
In February of this year, US$500,000 was allotted by UNICEF to fund the provision of water and sanitation hardware, assist the Ministry of Education to build schools’ capacity, and hygiene promotion for Venezuelan migrants. This was done as a measure to combat issues such as child abuse and child labour among the migrants with the focus being placed on the 4,800 migrant children living in Region 1 through 7.
During brief remarks, UNICEF resident representative to Guyana and Suriname, Sylvia Fouet said that the organization has been working to get information on how many children are actually entering school.
She disclosed that they are currently exploring avenues through which the schools in the border region can accommodate additional children.
Fouet commended the government for its “open door policy”, noting the challenge to the absorption capacity of the school. It was emphasized that the idea is to have a joint learning system instead of a separate one.
The Government of Guyana, with assistance from international agencies, has been working to assist Venezuelan migrants crossing the border to escape the social and economic crisis in the Spanish-speaking nation. To date, Guyana has registered some 6,000 migrants and has systems in place to track and monitor their presence in the country.