JIS News

The Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Ministry of National Security are currently mapping out an operational plan to deal with a possible influx of Haitians to the island, in the wake of the devastating earthquake of January 12.
Addressing a post-Cabinet press briefing held at Jamaica House today (January 20), Minister with responsibility for Information, Hon. Daryl Vaz, informed that details regarding the logistics for dealing with refugees should be available within a few days.
He further informed that a comprehensive budget is being put together so that funds can be identified to deal with expenses associated with the initiative. An action plan has also been drafted by the Ministry of Health and disseminated to the relevant agencies.
Minister Vaz said that Jamaica will be seeking funding from international donor agencies to deal with this undertaking as well as other aspects of the relief effort. He shared that the Government has already formally requested a $12 million grant from the United States Government to assist with its Help Haiti initiative.
Yesterday (January 19) in Parliament, Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, said the country would not turn its back on Haitian refugees. Mr. Vaz reiterated this point saying the situation “constituted a humanitarian cause to which we are obliged to respond appropriately”.
He said the Government is considering using a facility at Fairy Hill in Portland to accommodate the Haitians. He added that there is also a facility in Montpelier, St. James, that has been used in the past to house Haitian refugees.
Mr. Vaz also sought to reassure Jamaicans that all security precautions would be taken to ensure the activities of all refugees are closely monitored.
“We already have our challenges in terms of crime and violence here and, therefore, although we may not be able to do a background check, what we will have to do is make sure that the facilities that we have and the security that we have are beefed up so that we do not have a situation where these people get out into the open and add to our already stressful situation when it comes to crime and violence,” he explained.
He said the police and military have also stepped up border surveillance to ensure that all Haitians, who might arrive in the island, are accounted for.

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