Ministry of Housing and UN-Habitat discuss Venezuelan migrants and urban development



From left to right: Head of UNHCR office at TT Miriam Aertker, UN-Habitat hub coordinator Roi Chiti, Minister of Housing Pennelope Beckles, Minister of the Ministry of Housing Adrian Leonce and head of the office of the International Organization for migrations to TT Jewel Ali. PHOTO COURTESY MINISTRY OF HOUSING –

THE United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) has partnered with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to help integrate Venezuelan migrants into the society of Trinidad and Tobago on a sustainable basis.

Last Friday, the UN-Habitat hub coordinator for the Andean region, Roi Chiti, met with Housing Minister Pennelope Beckles to discuss how TT could strengthen its response to the influx of Venezuelan migrants.

A statement released on Saturday said the meeting focused on a UN-Habitat initiative titled Inclusive Cities, Communities of Solidarity which is financially supported by the European Union in partnership with the United Nations Refugee Agency ( UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The statement said: “This inter-agency project aims to strengthen the response of host countries to mixed migratory flows from Venezuela, in order to mitigate the negative spillover effects and to take advantage of the potential it can offer to countries of origin. ‘Home.

To facilitate this, UN-Habitat affirmed its commitment to work with Beckles’ ministry to promote social inclusion within cities and communities.

“The program will also seek to identify issues related to access to public spaces and basic services, as well as sustainable urban planning, as this affects not only the migrant / refugee population but also local / refugee communities. welcome, “the statement read.

Beckles said TT was doing its part to be more inclusive with migrants, highlighting the government’s granting of temporary work permits to more than 16,000 migrants in 2019, of which 13,000 were subsequently renewed.

“Although the situation is far from perfect, the registration gave them the opportunity to seek paid employment in the construction, trade and service sectors as well as to find suitable accommodation for themselves and their families. families. They also have access to free public health care and vaccinations against covid19, ”said Beckles.

“The government, however, has taken steps to ensure that everyone within our borders, citizens and migrants, have access to life-saving vaccines, health care and food baskets during the pandemic. To the extent that it is humanly and economically possible, the government will continue to provide a safe, inclusive and socially harmonious environment for the enjoyment of all. “

Regarding the government’s revitalization efforts, Beckles said the project aims to address urban issues such as economic decline, environmental degradation, community dereliction and growing unemployment.

She also affirmed her ministry’s commitment to creating sustainable communities.

“The government will continue to build the capacity and improve the economic viability of this region and others, in order to foster more inclusive, safer, more sustainable and more resilient urban communities, which will not only improve the quality of life of those who live there, but will also ensure a positive experience for migrants and refugees.

UNHCR TT Director Miriam Aertker said there is a need for social integration and cohesion. Aertker and IOM chief Jewel Ali agreed that relevant and timely data is needed for the initiative’s success, the statement said. They said critical needs assessments and consultations with all key stakeholders in host countries will be carried out. Aertker and Ali also agreed to make their findings available to relevant authorities to inform decision making and policy formulation.

Housing Minister Adrian Leonce, Ministerial Deputy Permanent Secretary Nirmala Ramlogan and Housing Development Corporation Managing Director Jayselle MacFarlane were all present at the meeting.

In conclusion, Chiti invited Beckles to attend an upcoming UN-Habitat conference of housing ministers in Cartagena, Colombia, November 22-23.

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