Prime Minister Bruce Golding told Parliament Tuesday that, despite a possibility of Haitians flooding local shores, following last week’s deadly earthquake, Jamaica would not turn its back on them.
“We will not turn our backs on persons who have suffered a disaster worse than can be imagined. But for the grace of God, their disaster could have been ours; their relief and recovery must be part of our responsibility,” Mr. Golding said.
However, he stated that the Government has put in place arrangements to deal with the arrival of Haitians. They will be processed, confined within designated areas, given medical screening and treatment, where necessary, as well as temporary accommodation and care until they can return home.
The Prime Minister was delivering a statement in the House of Representatives, Tuesday, on the crisis in Haiti and efforts to facilitate its reconstruction after the earthquake.
“Comments have been made about the possibility, if not likelihood, of a flood of Haitians landing on our shores. It is a real possibility for which we must prepare ourselves. The pace of relief and rebuilding efforts will determine the extent to which Haitians will feel the need to flee their own country,” Mr. Golding said.
“We have put in place the necessary arrangements to deal with the arrival of any Haitian nationals. They will be processed, confined within designated facilities, required to undergo medical screening and treatment, where necessary, and provided with temporary accommodation and care until they can be returned to their homeland,” he explained.
“While they may not fall within the UN Convention definition of refugees, they would constitute a humanitarian cause to which we are obliged to respond appropriately. An Action Plan for the treatment of such persons has been drafted by the Ministry of Health and disseminated to the relevant agencies at the national and local levels. If necessary, we will seek the assistance of international agencies and donor countries,” he added.