Suriname is small country on the northeast coast of South America. The following 10 facts about Suriname refugees only begin to touch upon the country’s history of refugees who fled the country for reasons of civil war, and of people from other countries who sought asylum in Suriname in recent years. Now, the country is adopting new practices to reach an international level of refugee acceptance and security.
- In 1991, 4,300 Surinamese found safety in refugee camps in the neighboring country of French Guiana, amid a raging four-year domestic civil war led by guerrilla commander Ronny Brunswijk.
- The French offered the refugees some financial aid, and planned to close the camps, sending those inside back to Suriname.
- Between 2007 and 2014, Suriname saw the number of refugees and stateless persons significantly decrease to the lowest the country had since the civil war.
- In 2014, there were a reported 17 outgoing refugees and people in refugee-like situations in Suriname. Only two cases of concern were documented as incoming asylum-seekers.
- In 2016, Suriname received 40 applications from Cuban refugees seeking security in the country.
- In the same year, 13 Surinamese applied for asylum in the Netherlands and Belgium, with the most successful acceptance rate in the Netherlands.
- Asylum-seekers and migrants found Suriname an attractive place of refuge because of its better wages in agricultural work, ease of border crossing, a perception of an accepting population and the prospect of a promising life working in Suriname’s gold mining industry.
- The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) recognized many positive developments in Suriname. In July 2014, the country passed the Draft Law on Nationality and Residency. The new law gives gender equality to both men and women regarding conferring their nationality, and it also protects people by preventing statelessness from loss of nationality.
- UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) saw active participation from Suriname in 2013 during the Regional Conference on the Protection of Vulnerable Persons in Mixed Migration Flows: Promoting Cooperation and Identification of Good Practices.
- In 2014, the government of Suriname participated in the thirtieth anniversary of the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees, and the Caribbean Sub-Regional Consultation on Mixed Migration and the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons.
Suriname has come a long way since the thousands of refugees seeking shelter elsewhere as the civil war continued. These 10 facts about Suriname refugees show that the country has reduced reason to house stateless persons, and that positive developments and achievements in refugee situations has strengthened its people.
– Olivia Cyr