A needs assessment on migration in Guyana, conducted by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), has found that in 2019 the total registered immigrant population was 15,700.
While that number has increased over the last year, it amounted at the time to approximately two per cent of Guyana’s total population with Surinamese as the largest population (30%), followed by Brazilians (15%) and Venezuelans (14%).
In addition, citizens of the United States of America accounted for 8.3% of the immigrant population and Chinese citizens 7%.
The report also noted that at the beginning of 2020, the IOM and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported nearly 22,000 Venezuelan migrants, of which 11,881 were on regular migration status.
During a virtual launch of the IOM’s Migration Governance Needs Assessment Report on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud welcomed the work done by IOM in this regard.
Chief of Mission of the IOM Robert Natiello said the Guyana government was now in a better position to conduct data driven migration management.
He said it was not a problem to be solved but rather a reality to be managed.
“People will move and continue to move and we take advantage of the benefits migration has to offer by ensuring it is well managed through migration policies,” he said.
As Natiello explained, the assessment presents a panoramic view of the current state of migration governance in Guyana.
Through concrete evidence and data, it provides a larger perspective on opportunities for strengthening migration governance and offers actionable recommendations on how to best minimize the potential risks of migration, while maximizing its economic and development benefits.
Persaud noted that Guyana has been increasingly a witness to migrants entering the country through both regular and irregular pathways, the latter being of major concern to the government.
He said the impact such movement will have on the socio-economic standing of the country must be considered and believes this assessment will go a far way in helping.
“We must take into account the country’s ability to manage this movement of people… the report will provide the needed context of the situation in country and inform how the government and other stakeholders can ensure migration is safe, orderly and regular,” he added.
Among the other main findings of the assessment is that the emigration rate of the country is among the top 20 in the world, as 40 per cent of Guyana’s citizens reside abroad.
In 2015, Guyana received the third greatest amount of remittances in relation to its GDP (8.6%) in the Caribbean. Only Haiti and Jamaica had higher percentages of their GDP coming from remittances (21% and 15%, respectively).
While remittances and the diaspora communities are vital for the economy, high levels of emigration also pose challenges for the country, including the emigration of skilled workers such as doctors, lawyers, nurses and technicians.
According to the World Bank, approximately 93 per cent of highly skilled Guyanese lived in another country in 2015.