‘Generous’ T&T opens its doors to displaced Dominicans
Despite Trinidad and Tobago’s financial troubles, the Government has announced that it will offer Dominicans some relief - a place to rest their heads.
Speaking at the Post Cabinet media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said Trinidad and Tobago will extend its generosity to the people of Dominica affected following the destruction of Hurricane Maria, by waiving the usual immigration requirements necessary for entry into the country.
“We are not in a position to contribute financially to the reconstruction of Dominica but certainly in situations like these, whatever we have available to us, we the people of Trinidad and Tobago have always been a generous people especially in these situations.”
“One of the things that we have is our own accommodation, whatever it might be. And, given the fact that there are tens of thousands of Dominicans who have neither shelter nor sustenance, I am proposing that in Trinidad and Tobago we waive or encourage in such a way, that a number of Dominicans, those who can find contact in Trinidad and Tobago, either by way of friend or family, and if they can make their way to Trinidad and find a household that will accept them, we will waive all restrictions for the next six months to any citizen of Dominica who finds his/her way to Trinidad and Tobago.”
The Prime Minister appealed to citizens with available space at their homes to welcome their displaced Caribbean neighbours and offer them refuge and other assistance for the next six months.
“Arrangements will be made so you can identify yourselves and for the next six months, Trinidad and Tobago will open our doors, our homes, our pots and dare I say our schools to citizens of the Commonwealth of Dominica.”
Describing the situation facing Dominicans as a “special moment” warranting the kindness of Trinbagonians to be extended to their Caribbean neighbours, Rowley said that despite the current economic challenges faced by the country, Trinidad and Tobago must be its brother’s keeper.
Addressing concerns that the generous invitation could pose a threat to national security in the form of unwanted criminal elements entering T&T’s borders, the Prime Minister said the special arrangement would not lead to any such instance.
“This is a response to their circumstance that we are saying: ‘we can help a bit more’.”
Declaring that: ‘house never too small for family’, Rowley vowed that every effort would be made to share whatever the country can offer.
Aid offered by T&T to regional countries is usually in the form of financial assistance, however, the Prime Minister said the country is not aiming to provide cash, but kind, given the state of the economy.
Under the provisions of the CARICOM Single Market Economy, Caribbean nationals are afforded free movement and the right to seek employment in any Member State, including the elimination of the need for work permits and permits of stay.
Freedom of movement includes the freedom to leave and re-enter any Member State of their choosing and also to have access to property either for residential or business purposes.
In the event that the Dominicans accepting the invitation come to Trinidad and Tobago have no means of income, Rowley said they can still be sure of a place here and even schooling for their children during their period of stay.
Trinidad and Tobago is one of the 12 member states of CARICOM committed to the free movement of people.
Further details on how citizens can do their part to assist Dominicans will be disclosed by the Government in the next “day or two”.