The United Nations (UN) says it is concerned over the Government’s decision to deport 82 Venezuelan nationals from Trinidad and Tobago, several of whom had reportedly claimed or were in the process of claiming asylum in this country.

This as the UN Refugee Agency, last month, published a Guidance note advising states to apply a protection-oriented response in dealing with Venezuelans in light of rapidly deteriorating political and socio-economic conditions in that country.

It asked that states find ways to facilitate access to their territory, award official documentation, grant access to basic rights and very importantly, apply a non-return principle to Venezuela, given that the majority of cases would, in fact, be considered as refugees.

The National security Ministry has since said that Saturday’s process was a “voluntary repatriation” process.

However, the UN says it is unable to independently verify this claim.

In a release yesterday, United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator Richard Blewitt said the body was concerned for the welfare of these people.

He added that the UN is in contact with the appropriate authorities in Port-of-Spain to ensure that any person in need of protection will get it without fail,” Blewitt said.

On Saturday, a Venezuelan military aircraft took 82 Venezuelan nationals – 53 men and 29 women – back home from the Piarco International Airport. Just under 40 of those 82 Venezuelans were said to have applied for asylum and refugee status in T&T, but sources said the certificates they had in their possession were allegedly disregarded by T&T Immigration officers.

The UN is now encouraging the Government to adopt legislation on refugee issues.