Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Venezuelan “asylum seekers” escape shelter assigned by UNHCR

Share

A group of eight Venezuelan nationals who reportedly were seeking refugee status in Belize are missing and believed to have escaped to Mexico. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Belize assisted them when in captivity. They were among 38 persons deemed inadmissible into Belize on January 18th after arriving at the Philip Goldson International Airport from Panama. Belize’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, and Immigration registry have expressed dissatisfaction with the handling of the situation.

On Monday, January 24th, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, and Immigration sent out a release titled ‘So-called Asylum Seekers Escape from UNHCR.’ The release pointed out that they left the shelter they were staying at and apparently made their way to Mexico. It was also revealed that the Venezuelan nationals never visited the Refugees Department to apply for asylum.

As a result, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration, Honourable Eamon Courtenay, directly expressed to the UNHCR Head of Office, Roland Francois Weil, the government’s deep concern at this unacceptable turn of events. Courtenay also informed Weil that there will now be a need for strong protocols to govern future incidents like this one considering this episode.

Most of the 38 travelers, primarily Venezuelans, were returned to Panama via COPA Airlines, while some stayed at a hotel in Belize City because they tested positive for COVID-19. The eight seeking asylum who reportedly escaped were in the care of Help for Progress, the UNHCR’s implementing partner. At the request of the Government of Belize, they were to ensure these persons did not leave the shelter they were assigned to until their refugee applications were processed.

It is speculated that all 38 passengers traveling to Belize, including a Moroccan, and one from the Dominican Republic did not intend to stay in Belize. The government believes that their intention is to continue traveling north to countries like the United States of America.

Read more

 

Please help support Local Journalism in Belize

For the first time in the history of the island's community newspaper, The San Pedro Sun is appealing to their thousands of readers to help support the paper during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 1991 we have tirelessly provided vital local and national news. Now, more than ever, our community depends on us for trustworthy reporting, but our hard work comes with a cost. We need your support to keep delivering the news you rely on each and every day. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Please support us by making a contribution.

Local News