The heavy influx of Asians, mainly nationals from India and Pakistan, is worrying several neighboring countries with concerns being raised through informal contacts.
Most of the Asians are coming to the Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country via Trinidad and Tobago. They also end up in Guyana using illegal routes.
“The authorities are investigating and recommendations have already been made to curb the situation of the influx of large groups of Indians and Pakistanis, etc,” a senior security official said.
The officials note that many people are taking advantage of the 2022 decision by Suriname to allow foreign nationals to visit without a visa, but must be in possession of a valid passport. In addition, they have to pay a US$25 entry fee at the various international border posts.
Prior to the ease in travel, only Haitians were subject to restrictions amid concerns that they were using the country to try and enter the United States illegally.
But the officials note that regular scheduled flights to Suriname now carry dozens of Indians and Pakistani nationals with Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation Minister, Albert Ramdin noting that travelers were also arriving from Nepal.
The security services are reported to be monitoring the situation, saying that they are not aware that the foreign nationals are being employed on a government large-scale agricultural project.
It seems more like they are using Suriname as a hub to go to surrounding countries and maybe the US as well,” the official said and Ramdin has also denied the existence of any government agricultural project where foreigners are put to work.
He said that visitors are screened using the border management system that is linked to the CARICOM passenger identification system.
“Most people are job seekers or tourists. Terrorists are immediately red-flagged,” said Ramdin, adding that a committee has made recommendations in a bid to stem the flow of foreigners into the country.
He said that travellers are now being asked to indicate the purpose of their visit, demonstrate means of subsistence and also provide a contact person in Suriname to the authorities.
“We do ask these questions, but then the people are already here,” said Ramdin, adding “our provisional figures show more than 2500 people from East Asia have come to Suriname in the past months”.
He said the authorities are also working with US officials so as to detect any threat to the countries.
“This is part of the migration issue,” Ramdin said, adding he says he has learned through informal diplomatic contacts that visitors who enter Suriname “end up elsewhere”.
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