Trinidad and Tobago praised for helping Venezuelans

UN Population Fund (UNFPA) executive director Dr Natalia Kanem has praised TT for its responses to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, natural disasters at home and in the Caribbean region.

UN Rep, Dr. Natalia Kanem, and the governor of the TT Central Bank, Dr. Alvin Hilaire

Speaking at the Eric Williams memorial lecture at the Central Bank auditorium in Port of Spain last Friday, Kanem said the crisis in Venezuela is posing challenges for the region. “Given the small size and limited absorptive capacity of some concerned countries, there has been considerable impact on host communities.”

She said TT must be commended for the position it has taken on Venezuela and particularly the issue of migrants from the South American nation. “TT has accepted more Venezuelans per capita than any other country,” Kamen said. She added it was important to acknowledge “the tremendous efforts being made by governments across the region to grapple with increasing numbers of refugees and migrants while seeing the human face of the crisis.”

At a news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, the Prime Minister expressed concern about a “dangerous” a move by the Organisation of American States (OAS) to invoke an “obsolete” treaty for military intervention in Venezuela. Dr Rowley said he alerted UN Secretary General António Guterres about a meeting in Washington two weeks ago where the OAS held a vote on the Rio Treaty to deem Venezuela a security risk and intervene in the country.

Rowley said TT chose to abstain from the vote to determine Venezuela a security risk. He added a second vote was taken at the UN and TT again abstained. Kamen also observed that apart from migration of people, the Caribbean is also being challenged by the increased frequency and severity of natural disasters. She said this was acknowledged by Rowley in his address to the UN General Assembly in New York last week.

The fragility and vulnerability of the region to natural disasters, Kamen continued, was underscored by the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian and the effects of the passage of Tropical Storm Karen on TT. In the case of Karen, Kamen said she was told local farmers lost millions of dollars in crops. But Kamen added, “We see the resilience in the Bahamas. We saw it right here in TT with your quick response to Tropical Storm Karen.”

Kamen said the UNFPA praises Caribbean governments for “the remarkable job they are doing with response.” She added, “Efforts are already moving from relief to recovery, and to building back better.”