There are 1,729 Venezuelans living in Ireland, according to the Irish Census of Population in 2016. Most of them fled their homes given the profound economic, social, political and humanitarian crisis Venezuela was facing. The situation has gotten worse and it has led to the Venezuelan Community addressing the Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton calling for a migratory protection.
The Venezuelans are supported by a guidance note published by UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in March 2018, on the outflow of Venezuelans around the world. The publication expresses the concern for the safety and protection of Venezuelans fleeing the country and exhorts States ”receiving and/or already hosting Venezuelans to allow them access to their territory and to continue to adopt appropriate and pragmatic protection – oriented responses”.
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Through its Regional Refugee Response Strategy (RRRS), UNHCR will seek to ensure that Venezuelans in need of international protection can gain access into the countries to which they are seeking entry and to asylum or protection-oriented arrangements. In addition, they should receive protection and support to access basic rights and services without discrimination – especially those with specific needs and vulnerabilities – ideally through a community-based approach; and increasingly work towards the attainment of solutions.
Angelisa Zerpa is the chairperson of the Venezuelan Comunity in Ireland. She explains that there are many Venezuelans who have not found the right immigration status to stay in the country and support themselves. She explains, “If they go back to the country their lives would be at risk. They might not be able to find food, medicines and they won’t be able to help their families. Most of the Venezuelans living abroad are supporting families to at least have the basic meal.”
Zerpa considers that it is significant to bring this petition to the attention of the government to acknowledge the very critical situation the country is facing. “What we are asking from you is to take into account the existent humanitarian crisis in Venezuela every time you face a decision in terms of the Venezuelans stay in the country”.
She emphasises that Venezuelan are hardworking people, very well educated willing to improve themselves. “We don’t want to depend on anyone, what we want is to have the right opportunities, to be able to work and to do our lives and to contribute to this society, as much as Ireland has contributed to us”. She concluded.
Many countries in the region and also from other continents are giving legal protection to thousands of Venezuelans. That is the case of Chile, where its President Santiago Pinera is providing an unlimited number of “Democratic Responsibility” visa for them to live and work in the country.
According to the numbers from the Central Statistics Office in Ireland, Venezuelans represent one of the populations of non-Irish nationals which has increased the most in the recent years.