Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s call for nationals of Dominica to live in TT for six months is not a blanket call for every Dominican to seek refugee status here, but is limited to those who have family or friends here willing and able to accommodate them, Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said yesterday.
She assured this is not a ploy to win votes for the next general election, saying such “callous and insensitive remarks” have no place in a nation of immigrants that itself has so far been spared from natural disasters. Her remarks came in statement in her role as chairman of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Women’s League.
Robinson-Regis said the league fully backed Rowley’s call for Trinis to open their homes and hearts to the citizens of Dominica rendered homeless by Hurricane Maria. Noting TT’s historical willingness to help our Caricom neighbours after any natural disaster, she said Rowley offer of accommodation was apt given TT’s economic situation.
“In the midst of the negative comments already raging, the Women’s League reminds citizens that the PM’s call was for persons who have family, relatives or friends in Dominica and who are able to accommodate them, to step forward at this time and join with the Government in providing relief.
NOT WELL THOUGHT OUT
However, an Opposition UNC source said that while it is good to help Dominica, Rowley had not fully thought out the details. The source asked if Government will test potential local host families for their ability to take care of any Dominican guest.
“What happens if the families then having a falling out?” The source asked if the guests would be sitting around doing nothing for six months, or would they be given work permits? “What if they are under financial stress? Would we have to provide a financial assistance programme, or pay them a stipend?
“What happens at the end of the six months, if they have not got enough resources to go back to Dominica? What if they need significant medical attention?” Looking at TT’s crime wave, the source asked, “How will we protect the women? And the children and the aged?”. The source wondered whether it might be better for TT to help supply Dominica with items like generators, galvanise sheeting and lumber to help residents re-establish their lives there, rather than re-settling them here.