Social Humanitarian and Cultural Committee
Combating Racism and Xenophobia
The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Forest Hills Eastern High School
Xenophobia is defined as the fear or hatred of anything that is strange or foreign, while racism is defined as a prejudice or discrimination based on the race of an individual or group. Both racism and xenophobia are prevalent issues, and countries worldwide struggle with the issue of how to combat these problems. Due to the stable economy of Trinidad and Tobago, it has received an influx of Venezuelan immigrants seeking asylum and fleeing their own hyper inflated, crime infiltrated country. It is estimated that 60,000 Venezuelans have settled in the Republic as of 2018 – one of the highest amounts proportionate to Trinidad and Tobago’s population of less than 1.3 million.
While Trinidad and Tobago has taken steps to welcome Venezuelan and other refugees, the wave of immigrants has caused the country to be vulnerable to racist and anti-immigrant sentiments, cultivated within social media and radio shows, all under the false pretense of “patriotism”. In a statement by president Paula-Mae Weekes in July of 2019 concerning immigration and the xenophobia crisis, she stated that it was up to the “lawmakers, representing the views and interests and aspirations of those on whose behalf they speak to set the tone. Our people will follow where we lead”.
Trinidad and Tobago urges the UN to take steps to ensure the safety of refugees, and combat racism by educating citizens and government officials of the Caribbean, while promoting unity and shutting down social media pages that contain racist and xenophobic sentiments. We ask that our neighboring countries in assist us in taking in and educating their citizens about Venezuelan refugees; however, we implore that the United Nations does not turn our limited space into an island primarily for refugees, and instead helps ensure the safety of foreign countries citizens in order to lessen their need to flee to Trinidad and Tobago.
- Isabel Gil