Thursday, June 20, 2024

Remaining Venezuelan nationals deemed inadmissible removed from the country


The remaining ten Venezuelan nationals, part of a larger group of travelers found inadmissible to enter the country on January 18th, finally left over the weekend. The travelers who arrived in Belize from Panama via COPA Airlines returned to Panama via TAG Airlines on Saturday, January 29th, after being cleared of COVID-19. Even though seven of these persons requested asylum through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Belize on Friday, January 28th, their request was denied.

The ten Venezuelans, who were part of a larger group totaling 38, stayed at a hotel in Belize City after testing positive for COVID-19 at the expense of COPA Airlines. After clearing the disease and being scheduled to leave the country on Saturday, a request was made to the Ministry of Immigration by the UNHCR that seven persons were seeking asylum in Belize.

The Government of Belize noted that these individuals never claimed asylum when they arrived in Belize. Their immigration declaration forms stated that they came to Belize for “tourism” purposes. In addition, they had previously been interviewed by UNHCR and did not claim asylum. According to the request, these seven persons changed their position and wished to apply for asylum because they feared for their lives if they returned to Venezuela.

The government touched on the matter after eight asylum seekers who were previously handed over to Help for Progress at the request of the UNHCR were allowed to escape to Mexico shortly after January 18th. The Ministry of Immigration informed the UNHCR that its request for these seven individuals to be handed over without security was refused. They were returned to Panama, where they were free to seek asylum.

As a result of this incident, Cabinet approved the Ministry of Immigration to impose visa requirements for nationals of Venezuela, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic.

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