WILLEMSTAD - Venezuelans without papers are also eligible for a food package in Curaçao. For this, they must register immediately. It is now the first time since the crisis in Venezuela that Curaçao actively registers undocumented migrants.
"The chance to finally get a picture of this group," says Ieteke Witteveen of Human Rights Defense. According to Witteveen, there are a total of around 25,000 undocumented migrants on the island: mostly Venezuelans, but also people from other countries. Many of them do undeclared work and, like many other residents, are left without income due to the corona crisis.
All these people can now register, without risk of deportation, to receive a food package. "We already have a waiting list of 500 families," says Witteveen.
1,700 migrants registered
Franklin Girigorie of Caritas, the organization that works for both Curaçao residents who need food and migrants, adds that today 11,000 people are registered, of which 1,700 are migrants. "But this number is growing every day."
Witteveen sees the registration as the opportunity to find out more about these migrants. Who are these people? Do they have children? What is their profession? This is also valuable post-corona because there are many young professionals among them. Let them work and do their share,” says Witteveen.
Care and education are tricky points
But, is it wise to just give thousands of people legal residence status right now? Bob van Dillen, a migration expert at international aid organization Cordaid thinks so.
“You get people out of illegality and they can pay taxes. The biggest problems are the care and education budgets. Money is needed for that and the Netherlands must assume its responsibility in this.”
"Make aid to immigrants a condition for support"
In Curaçao, there is no support from anyone to put money into this group of people. Van Dillen knows this: “We often work in countries that are in crisis, so you have to make agreements that will benefit the population themselves. The whole lower class of society, including migrants, can now be addressed.”
Cordaid has made extra financial resources available to provide food for the group of undocumented migrants in Curaçao and Aruba. They also called on Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to take action to help the islands with the thousands of migrants.
"There is already talk of financial support for the islands," says Van Dillen. “Set the condition that the money partly goes to the lower class of society. This is the time!"