PM meets former Speaker on plight of Trini refugees
The Prime Minister has met with former speaker Nizam Mohammed to discuss the plight of TT nationals, mostly Muslim women and children, stranded in “countries deemed conflict zones.”
Dr Rowley, as head of the National Security Council, held talks with Nizam Mohammed at Whitehall on Monday according to a post on the Prime Minister’s Facebook page.
Although the names of the countries were not listed, there have been reports since 2021 of close to 100 nationals in refugee camps in Syria and Iraq.
Mohammed was accompanied by Kwasi Atiba and Patrick Edwards, the posted stated. Atiba is a member of the Islamic Resource Society and Edwards is the former ambassador to Uganda.
“The meeting focused on the issue of Trinidad and Tobago nationals stranded in countries deemed conflict zones…This group has been in ongoing discussions with the Muslim Community as it relates to this matter.”
In March, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) organisation reported of the almost 100 nationals detained in northeast Syria, 56 are children. The group appealed to the government to bring the children and their mothers back to TT as a matter of urgency.
HRW counter-terrorism associate director Letta Tayler said at a press conference that TT refugees were held in camps by US-backed, Kurdish-led forces.
The HRW said there are 56 children and 21 women being held in two camps, and 13 males, including a teenage boy, in detention centres.
HRW said a survey of over 100 children worldwide repatriated to their home countries had reintegrated into their societies well.
Also in March, the Anjuman Sunnat ul Jamaat Association (ASJA) also pleaded with the government to explore all avenues to expedite the repatriation of the Trini refugees. It said it is willing to work with the government to have these nationals properly reintegrated into society.
In April 2022, a Sunday Newsday article reported that since the collapse of the terrorist group ISIS, there were TT citizens among the over 50,000 at al-Hol who were detained by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias.
It stated that the majority of men died but a large number of the survivors were young children who were carried to Syria and Iraq by their parents and 31 who were born of Trinidadian parentage.
Within this group of 73 children – 38 from TT, 31 born in Syria, and four in Iraq – at the al-Hol, al-Hawl and al-Roj camps, there are also orphans.
The Prime Minister’s meeting on Monday was attended by the members of the National Security Council subcommittee: the Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Reginald Armour SC, Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs, Dr Amery Browne and Minister of Energy and Energy Industries and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young.
"PM meets former Speaker on plight of Trini refugees"