U.N. humanitarian agencies are calling for a stop to the deadly sea journeys on smugglers’ boats that are endangering the lives of Venezuelan refugees and migrants fleeing persecution and hardship.
The appeal follows the latest loss of life in the waters near the Venezuelan coastal town of Guiria several days ago. Up to 25 refugees and migrants, among them four children whose boat had capsized offshore, were found floating in the sea.
The shipwrecked vessel according to reports set sail for Trinidad and Tobago on December 6.
The U.N. human rights office is calling on authorities in Venezuela, and Trinidad and Tobago to launch an investigation into the incident.
The U.N. refugee agency and International Organization for Migration report more Venezuelans have been leaving their country in recent weeks as COVID-19 lockdown measures in the region have eased. However, they note land and maritime borders remain closed, forcing them to escape using informal, dangerous routes.
The organisation says smugglers and human traffickers who exploit and abuse desperate people for profit are taking advantage of this situation. U.N. agencies say regular pathways must be available so refugees and migrants don’t have to risk their lives.