High Commissioner Commends Diaspora Members


High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), His Excellency Anthony Johnson has commended members of the Jamaican Diaspora UK, for their decision not to cancel their visit to Jamaica next month, despite the postponement of the biennial Diaspora Convention.
He told JIS News today (May 29), that the decision exemplified the tremendous strength of belief Jamaicans in the UK have in their country. He urged those travelling to use the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with members of the government and civil society on the issues currently confronting Jamaica and how they may assist in finding solutions during this critical period in the nation’s history.
The 2010 Diaspora Convention was scheduled to be held from June 14 to 17, in Ocho Rios, St. Ann.
The executive of the Jamaican Diaspora UK held a meeting at the Jamaican High Commission in London today, at which the postponement of the conference was the main item on the agenda. Some delegates expressed disappointment at the fact that they had booked their holidays to coincide with the conference and that they would not now have the main arena in which to push their agendas on issues concerning the Diaspora.
Several of the delegates also voiced concerns that given the timing of the announcement, it could be misconstrued or misrepresented as a reaction to the ongoing situation in Western Kingston.
High Commissioner Johnson assured the meeting that the decision was far removed from the current situation, outlining that the decision to postpone the meeting had been taken in Kingston by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, which has responsibility for Diaspora Affairs.
“The group attending the conference wanted to go to Jamaica to celebrate Diaspora Day. Since many had already booked their tickets they decided they would not change their plans. They were rightly concerned as this was the only time they would have had to go to Jamaica given work and family commitments. However, they have asked that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade assist them to hold meetings with stakeholders at various levels. The UK Mission has assured them that every effort will be made to ensure that their trip is still meaningful,” he said. Diaspora Advisory Board member, Celia Grandison-Markey, cited a low subscription rate from certain regions as a major contributing factor for the postponement, as fewer participants make it far more difficult to offset the cost of staging the event. High Commissioner Johnson said discussions have already started to determine when the conference may be held.

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