Seven migrants returning from Colombia disappear from COVID-19 shelter

Yrene Aponte said her two daughters and five grandsons were in an Apure state shelter, confined, and that she lost contact with them a week ago after they told her there was no food in the shelter and were being mistreated by the staff there.

Over the last two weeks, returning migrants forced into confinement have been protesting in the Apure state.

By Marieva Fermin.

Yrene Aponte reported that she lost all contact with her migrant family a week ago. The group includes two women, her daughters, and five of her grandsons, ranging in age from 2 to 20 years old.

Protests in that shelter began two weeks ago. Similar events have taken place in shelters all over Venezuela, with people complaining about conditions, such as little food, no water, separation of family groups, forbidden cell-phone use, forced to sleep on the floor.

In a telephone interview with El Pitazo on June 9, Mrs. Aponte said that her two daughters and grandsons returned on May 10 in a bus of the Return to the homeland plan, promoted by the Maduro, and since their arrival over the Apure state border with Colombia, they confined in a shelter in Guasdualito. A week ago, however, she lost contact with them.

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Aponte says that her daughters told her over the phone that they were isolated in a school in deplorable conditions with no even given food. They feared for the children’s health, they said, due to the lack of food and the unhealthy conditions of the place they shared with more than 30 people. She said they were having a hard time at the shelter, where the protests were already beginning.

They told Aponte that they would be moved to some hotels, as indeed they were, but the sisters were separated, and each stayed in a different hotel with their children. Since then, a week ago, Mrs. Yrene lost all contact with her daughters and fears for them, as she thinks they may have been victims of reprisals for demanding better treatment.

Yrene is asking the national and regional authorities to inform her of what is happening with her family group. They should explain to her why, if both did the rapid tests to rule out COVID-19 and were negative, they are still isolated.

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