In light of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 within the Caribbean, measures to coordinate efforts with the aim of supporting the health and safety of the Region were high on the agenda during a meeting of the Guyana/Brazil Frontier Committee today.
A virtual “extraordinary meeting” saw representatives of both countries delving into various challenges posed by the pandemic and cross border movement between Guyana and Brazil.
According to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, officials from the two States focused on the impact of the pandemic on regional economic activity, indigenous communities along the border, illegal crossings, security, joint patrols, support for vulnerable groups and trafficking in persons, among others.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Charlene Phoenix, as leader of Guyana’s delegation to the virtual summit, in her remarks, noted that, “Given what we have been seeing with regard to the COVID-19 cases on both sides, we should have a discussion to ensure that we are coordinating our responses to the pandemic as closely as possible.”
It was in this light that Guyana and Brazil committed to combining efforts for information sharing, especially in local dialects as well as in English, Portuguese and Spanish, to all communities along the border.
Representatives from both countries also expressed the intent to :explore additional measures to keep the communities safe” throughout the course of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the delegations shared the challenges they faced in their respective efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the part of Guyana,Regional Health Officer, Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo), Dr. Naail Uthman, explained that while his Region continued to adhere to the measures implemented by the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF), a major challenge was the effective monitoring of the lengthy border shared by Guyana and Brazil as many of the border communities had illegal crossing points.
“Officially, we have facilitated on Thursdays only the movement of goods and services from Brazil on which we know Guyana depends heavily,” he said.
Dr. Uthman further explained that a team had been established at the port to sanitize those goods and services.
The respective delegations were led by Ambassador Phoenix and Ambassador of the Federative Republic of Brazil to the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Her Excellency Maria Duclos Carisio.
Guyana’s delegation also comprised Ambassador to Brazil, His Excellency George Talbot, Consul General to Boa Vista, Ms. Shirley Melville, and a number of representatives from the Ministries of Public Health, Communities, and Social Protection and from the Department of Citizenship.
The previous meeting of the Guyana/Brazil Frontier Committee was held in Bonfim, State of Roraima, Brazil on October 30 and 31, 2018.
Guyana was scheduled to host the eighth meeting. However, due to challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in both countries, the Government of Guyana recommended the organization of this extraordinary meeting.
The Guyana/Brazil Frontier Committee was established on September 14, 2009 to address joint action between the border communities.