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Story Highlights

  • The Jamaican Diaspora is being assured that information shared on an online mapping website will only be used by authorised persons.
  • The survey aims to capture the location, interest and skills of persons, which will result in the establishment of a database to support the Government of Jamaica’s policy direction and interaction with members of the Diaspora.
  • Jamaicans living in Birmingham, United Kingdom (UK) were the first to begin registering when the project was launched recently at the start of a two-day Jamaican Diaspora Conference, in Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK.

The Jamaican Diaspora is being assured that information shared on an online mapping website will only be used by authorised persons.

Funded by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the survey aims to capture the location, interest and skills of persons, which will result in the establishment of a database to support the Government of Jamaica’s policy direction and interaction with members of the Diaspora.

Jamaicans living in Birmingham, United Kingdom (UK) were the first to begin registering when the project was launched recently at the start of a two-day Jamaican Diaspora Conference, in Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK.

High Commissioner to the UK, Her Excellency Aloun Ndombet Assamba, tells JIS News that the Commission has been reassuring Jamaicans that information placed on the site will be secured.

“We inform the people that any information that you give to us when you apply online, is protected and that it is not available to just anybody; and that one would have to possess a password in order to get into the system to access your information,” she says, adding that the survey is for all Jamaicans living outside of Jamaica.

“We don’t have to be concerned about unauthorised persons getting your information,” the High Commissioner asserts.

Welcoming the move by the Government to begin the survey, Mrs. Assamba pledges her support in getting more Jamaicans to register and on locating Jamaicans in the UK. She notes that it is a very important initiative that needs to be done, “as we move towards a Jamaica with no physical boundary.”

“It is important to know what skills they have, because when opportunities present themselves, both in Jamaica and outside of Jamaica, we would have to know where our people with the relevant skills are, to have Jamaicans appointed to enable us to exert influence in the world,” she argues.

Once the database is completed, the High Commissioner says the Government will be in a better position to engage Jamaicans in the Diaspora and to utilise their skills in areas that are critical to the development of the country.

She says one of the problems facing the High Commission is locating Jamaicans, especially those from the second to the fourth generation.

“We have not been able to get in touch with them, because we don’t know where they all are. We have been encouraging people who are of Jamaican descent, to come in and get their citizenship and their Jamaican passport,” she tells JIS News.

Mrs. Assamba points out that the Government will allow persons born in the UK to have dual citizenship, since “we consider them Jamaicans.”

The High Commissioner says persons in the UK are very enthused about the project. “I can tell you that at the launch people were very excited about this opportunity and during the time we had the Diaspora Conference in Birmingham, persons were also excited about the opportunity of registering online,” she adds.

Mrs. Assamba says persons were also informed of the mapping project at several sessions held recently at the High Commission’s office with representatives of agencies from Jamaica. “They, too, expressed their excitement that they had the grand opportunity to do this,” she notes.

The High Commissioner estimates that about 600,000 Jamaicans from first to the fourth generation are living in the UK. “But, we don’t have a database with all of their names and addresses,” she says.

Meanwhile, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Arnaldo Brown, who has responsibility for the Diaspora, tells JIS News that the goal is to capture as many as 100,000 Jamaicans abroad, noting that there  are about three million persons in the Jamaican Diaspora.

Apart from the United States of America (USA), the UK and Canada where the largest populations of Jamaicans reside, the State Minister says there are Jamaicans living in Africa, the Middle East, Central America and other Caribbean States.

“This is an 18-month project and therefore, we expect that it will be fully functional and operational by the seventh biennial conference in June of next year,” Mr. Brown says.

The State Minister explains that the website will house two survey instruments, one geared towards individuals and the other towards community alumni or other philanthropic associations.

“The intention is to capture information about members of the Diaspora in terms of their demographics. The other survey is more specific and is plugged into the medium term economic programme of the country as well as the growth agenda. It is seeking to capture information on the diaspora as it relates to their interests in critical areas of the economy,” he notes.

He cites these areas as the logistics hub, agro parks, information and communications technology (ICT), manufacturing, and health and wellness tourism. The Minister is urging the Jamaican Diaspora to log on to the website: www.mapjadiaspora.iom.int and fill out the survey.

When the survey was launched in Jamaica earlier this year, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, encouraged Jamaicans who have an interest in returning or giving back to Jamaica to register.

“We encourage Jamaicans anywhere in the world who have an interest in returning and/or giving back to their country, in even some small way, to register. Your contribution can make a world of a difference – just look at the power of remittances, although the individual amounts are small, collectively, a big impact is felt throughout the Jamaican society,” he said.