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Guyana to create settlement for Venezuelan refugees

By Ray Downs
Guyana to create settlement for Venezuelan refugees
Venezuelan refugees congregate in Boa Vista, Brazil, on May 3. More than 1 million Venezuelans have fled to other countries in the past year, including Guyana, which announced this week it would create a settlement for nearly 300 refugees. File Photo by Joedson Alves/EPA-EFE

July 31 (UPI) -- The government of Guyana announced this week it will create a temporary settlement to house approximately 260 Venezuelan refugees.

The refugees are currently in Guyana's Barima-Waini region, located on its border with Venezuela. Guyana's Immigration and Citizenship Minister, Winston Felix, said part of that area will be made into a settlement for the refugees to become self-reliant farmers, Demerara Waves reported.

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"It is intended that we develop something like a homestead where families are accumulated and eventually we can move them into cash crop farming," Felix said. "We can encourage that so that in the first instance they can feed themselves and if they have surpluses they can sell. We are looking at crops for their sustenance and their immediate needs.

"The immediate outcome is that we want to see them properly settled and they must be able to sustain themselves."

A multi-agency committee tasked with coordinating the settlement is working with the United Nations' Children's Emergency Fund and Human Rights' Council to handle the Venezuelan refugee situation.

Guyana's decision to offer a settlement to Venezuelan refugees comes about five months after the government announced it would increase border security after a reported increase in Venezuelan gangs coming across its border.

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The worsening economic crisis in Venezuela has caused more than 1 million people to flee the country over the past year.

Last month, the United States announced it would increase humanitarian aid to Venezuelan refugees, bringing that total up to $31 million for fiscal year 2017.

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