March 3, 2006

Haitian refugees given work permits

Two female Haitian refugees living in St.Vincent and the Grenadines are said to be leading normal lives after being here for a year. {{more}}

Reliable sources told SEARCHLIGHT the Haitian nationals had escaped to the British Virgin Islands (BVI) after the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. They were locked up in the BVI and were about to be deported when the Government of St.Vincent and the Grenadines intervened and offered them asylum.

On Sunday, February 19, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves at the Unity Labour Party’s (ULP) 12th National Convention disclosed that St.Vincent and the Grenadines was hosting two Haitian refugees but the Prime Minister stopped short of saying who they were. He even joked about keeping it a secret from the media for almost a year.

Giving the reasons for accepting the Haitian refugees here, the Prime Minister at the convention said the two refugees who had worked for the Lavallas party were about to be returned to “a certain death” in Haiti when he asked for them to be sent to St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

“We accepted quietly two refugees from Haiti,”

Dr. Gonsalves said at the time.

SEARCHLIGHT’s sources, shedding light on the issue, said the two refugees are in their late 30s to early 40s and are now employees of the Ministry of Education.

The sources informed Searchlight that one of the women had worked closely with the former Haitian President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide while the other was involved with the Haitian Adult Literacy Programme. It is claimed that the women were granted work permits and residency.

Given that Haiti will be re-entering CARICOM by July this year the women will be allowed to move freely within CARICOM and can choose to stay on longer here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines if they so desire.