According to the Dutch Red Cross, there is an urgent need for a humanitarian solution for Venezuelans who have fled to Aruba and Curaçao. Thousands of people have fled Venezuela and now live on the islands and have to find food, shelter or medicine themselves. People constantly live in fear; exploitation and human trafficking are major risks, the Dutch Red Cross said.
The situation of Venezuelan refugees in the Netherlands Antilles is dramatic: according to a recent report from Refugees International, it is one of the worst in the region. A delegation from the relief organization visited the island of Curaçao early this year. They concluded that Curaçao does not offer any form of protection to the growing number of Venezuelan refugees, the Katholiek Weekblad reported earlier.
Since the unrest in Venezuela, around 56,000 people have found their way to the so-called ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao), the closest of which is less than 20 miles from the coast of Venezuela. According to the Red Cross, most fled to Curaçao (25,000). The official number is unknown because many hide themselves for fear of being arrested.
The Red Cross also said that Venezuelan refugees are alone. This increases the risk of abuse, human trafficking and forced prostitution. In recent months, various other aid organizations have voiced concerns about the disastrous situation in the Netherlands Antilles, including the local Caritas, which provides humanitarian aid on behalf of the church.
According to Caritas, the biggest problem is the lack of an official migration policy. This is especially true for Venezuelans without legal documents. Once arrested, they are locked up in so-called & #8216; refugee barracks & #8217 ;.
There is no right to asylum on the islands. Most people do not get the opportunity to request international protection. The reason for this is that Curaçao has never signed the Geneva Refugee Convention and does not recognize refugee status.
All Venezuelans who are ultimately arrested must redeem their own ticket. If they don't have the money to do this, they stay in prison until family members or friends can provide the money. If that does not happen, the government and the consulate are asked to help, a process that takes months.
The flow of refugees is a huge challenge for the ABC Islands, especially for Curaçao and its 160,000 inhabitants. The crisis in Venezuela has left a heavy mark on the economy. The closure of the oil refinery in Curaçao, caused by the situation in Venezuela, was a serious blow to the island and caused an increase in unemployment. Currently, 26 percent of people are unemployed and youth unemployment is around 40 percent. Experts say it is clear that Curacao cannot handle the influx of refugees alone.