Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley says his administration will waive immigration requirements for residents of the hurricane ravaged island of Dominica for a period of six months while the CARICOM member state rebuilds.
Rowley made the announcement on Thursday during a post cabinet press briefing.
Place made in schools
He also said places could be made in schools across the nation for Dominican children to continue their education. “In situations like these, whatever we have available to us, we the people have always been generous, are, and willing, to share…..for the next six months, we will open our doors, our homes, our pots and I daresay out schools to the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica.”
Must identify friends/family in TT
The PM said those Dominicans taking up the offer must be able to clearly identify friends or family in TT who will be able to accommodate them. He stressed that Dominicans who choose to come to the country, will not be classified as refugees.
“A house is never too small for a family and I think that is what’s happening here.”
Rowley said while he has not been able to speak directly with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, he has been in touch with the secretariat of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). He added that TT has already provided a helicopter and coast guard vessel to assist relief efforts in Dominica, however he said TT is not in a position to contribute financially.
Concerning education, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said spaces will be made available to students who were displaced in Dominica.
“When Grenada was hit by Ivan, Trinidad and Tobago Government made available school spaces to a number of students. It is something I have experienced because at that time I was a principle of a secondary school. Although space would be made available, this must be done in consultation of the Ministry of National Security which has responsibility for the Immigration Department so we want to make sure everything is done properly. There are certain parameters that we must work within,” he said.
Hurricane Maria slammed into Dominica earlier this week , killing at least 15 people.
Skerrit, in an interview with ABS television in neighboring Antigua and Barbuda on Thursday issued an urgent appeal, saying Dominica needs all the help it can get.