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Working Group on Crisis of Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees of the OAS General Secretariat Adds New Members

  October 11, 2018

The Working Group to Address the Regional Crisis Caused by Venezuelan Migrant and Refugee Flows of the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) added three women and two men from Brazil, Cuba, the United States, Mexico and Venezuela.

The Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, highlighted the contribution that the new members can make to the Working Group. "The knowledge of these people will be fundamental in providing solutions to the exodus of the Venezuelan people - the most visible face of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela – who can today be found walking through the cities and towns of the Americas looking for the bread they cannot get in their own homeland," he said.

The five immigration and refugee specialists join the Group Coordinator, David Smolansky, and the Co-coordinator and Director of the OAS Department of Social Inclusion, Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian, both of Venezuelan nationality.

"It is an honor to work with credible and respected experts in refugees to address the largest migratory crisis that Latin America has seen and the most serious in the Western Hemisphere. I am sure that, with their knowledge, they will make a great contribution to the region and, especially, to Venezuela," said Smolansky.

For her part, Muñoz-Pogossian indicated that "with the incorporation of experts of this caliber, we will be able to produce a report that will document the causes of the exodus, characterize the flows of Venezuelan migrants and refugees and identify public policy solutions for receiving countries to guarantee the protection needs of the displaced."

The new members - who will work ad honorem - are:

  • Dany Bahar (Venezuela), member of the Brookings Institute and academic specialist in immigration with several publications in Harvard, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development
  • Francisca Vigaud -Walsh, of Cuban-American origin, is a specialist with nearly 20 years of experience in refugee crises in Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Balkans.
  • James F. Hollifield (United States) is an economist and political scientist specializing in migration, with several publications on the subject. His latest book is titled "The Migration State," published by Harvard University.
  • Miryam Hazan (Mexico) is an academic specialist in immigration who works at the OAS and has participated in several research projects on migrants in Central America, Mexico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
  • Cyntia Sampaio (Brazil) is an expert in migrants and refugees with vast experience in international organizations such as the United Nations, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

This Working Group will also rely on contributions from experts in various areas. The Working Group plans to visit the countries of the region that receive Venezuelan migrants and refugees to produce a report that determines how many they are and where they are, and that contains a series of recommendations to improve their situation.

Another objective of the Working Group is the creation of a multilateral cooperation fund that addresses the following issues: food, medical care, education, training, shelter, legal assistance, and child care.

More information about the group is available here

Reference: E-061/18