CARACAS (Reuters) – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on Monday expressed concern for dozens of Venezuelan migrants, including 16 minors, who were deported from neighboring Trinidad and Tobago, and whose whereabouts it said were unknown.
Millions of Venezuelans have fled an economic collapse in their homeland in recent years, with around 40,000 settling in the neighboring dual-island nation. More than a dozen Venezuelans have been missing since vessels they boarded in attempts to get to Trinidad sunk.
“The IACHR urges Trinidad and Tobago to strictly observe the duty of special protection of (children and adolescent) migrants and to consider their best interests in all decisions that affect them,” the IACHR, a body of the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS), wrote on Twitter, adding that some of the minors were unaccompanied by their parents.
Neither Venezuela’s information ministry nor Trinidad and Tobago’s foreign ministry immediately responded to requests from Reuters for comment.
David Smolansky, an exiled Venezuelan opposition leader who coordinates the OAS’s response to the once-prosperous OPEC nation’s migration crisis, said the minors as well as 13 adults were deported on Sunday afternoon on two small boats destined for Venezuela.
Concern for the deportees grew on Monday when the boat did not arrive in eastern Venezuela as expected around midday, Smolansky said.
Reporting by Vivian Sequera in Caracas; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Christopher Cushing