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Venezuelan refugees suspected to have drowned en route to Trinidad

Over 30 Venezuelan refugees are missing and are suspected to have drowned after their boat capsized while travelling to Trinidad.

The fishing boat, Jhonnaly Jose, sank just 5km from the Venezuelan coast in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The boat recorded 25 passengers but sources say additional passengers boarded unlogged. All passengers were aged between 17 and 28 and were mostly women.

Four survivors have been found, including the captain, Francisco Martinez.

Most passengers are likely to have been leaving the country to escape the ongoing social and economic crisis.Many Venezuelans are forced cross illegally on fishing boats because they don’t have passports to enter through official ports and are often refused entry.

Government figures report that 3 million Venezuelans have fled since the crisis began. An estimated 40,000 Venezuelans are living in Trinidad, 10,000 of whom are registered as asylum seekers with the UN refugee agency.

Refugees are forced to work illegally due to Trinidad’s lack of employment rights meaning that many are exploited, paid low wages and some resort to sex work. Trinidadian police have uncovered sex trafficking rings.

Recently, the Trinidadian government announced an amnesty on all Venezuelans living in the country which will give them temporary work permits.

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