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Suriname to assist hundreds of Cuban migrants stranded at border

by Reuters
Friday, 4 December 2020 19:39 GMT

PARAMARIBO, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Suriname's government will provide humanitarian assistance to a group of some 490 Cuban migrants stranded at the South American country's western border with Guyana, officials said this week.

The incident comes as U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's victory over Donald Trump in last month's election has raised hopes among asylum seekers, including Cubans, that Washington's current hardline policies on immigration will be relaxed.

The group, which local media reported includes both recent arrivals seeking to reach the United States and longer-term residents of Suriname seeking to leave due to the country's high inflation and economic downturn, is camped out in Nickerie, some 200 km (124 miles) west of capital Paramaribo.

They have been unable to cross the Courantyne River into Guyana because ferry service is shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We consider it a serious matter," Albert Ramdin, Suriname's minister of foreign affairs, said in a statement issued on Thursday, adding that the country was providing the migrants with shelter, food, and medical assistance.

Authorities have also suspended flights from Cuba and Haiti into Suriname.

The foreign ministry said it had requested technical assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Red Cross, and the International Organization for Migration. (Reporting by Ank Kuipers in Paramaribo Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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