GEORGETOWN – In the wake of recent allegations by a Jamaican of mistreatment at the hands of immigration officers while detained at Barbados’ Grantley Adams Airport, a pregnant Guyanese has said she suffered similar handling Tuesday.
Five months pregnant Annecia Ariel Alfred said she was denied entry into the island because officers believed that she was going to work without a permit, but was made to sit on a bench for some 12 hours while awaiting a return flight to Guyana.
Alfred who had visited Barbados earlier this year, and spent time with a relative who is resident on the island, had traveled from Guyana with the relative’s two Barbadian children, whom she was returning to Barbados after their holiday.
She explained to Kaieteur News that the intention was to spend Christmas with her relative in Barbados before flying back home, then to join her husband in the USA.
But immigration officers doubted Alfred’s story and accused her of seeking to enter Barbados for a job.
“I explained that I never worked a day in my life, and asked why would I leave Guyana to come and work here with a big belly,” Alfred said she told the Immigration officers.
She said, nonetheless, “They gave me a letter saying I was denied entry was because of a work permit”.
The Barbadian children were allowed to go with their mother.
Alfred, who had arrived on an 8:10 flight, said she was then resigned to her fate and was looking towards the midday flight back to Guyana, as the immigration officers had assured her.
But then her horror story began.
She did not leave at noon, but boarded a flight for departure at 8:20 pm Tuesday night.
“I was sitting one place, in a cold place for hours,” she said, further explaining, “with the iron handle chairs you can’t lie down or put up your feet, and you can’t leave the room”.
“I went into the bathroom and cried. I feel like I going lose this child”.
She said that with the exception of a vending machine with snacks, there was nothing for her to eat.
She eventually got a tuna sandwich because of the care of one immigration officer.
“I was offered one sandwich from a kindhearted immigration woman. She was passing me there all day and when she realised I was there all day she decided to ask me if I had anything to eat, she asked me if I would like a sandwich.”
Alfred’s recollection of her treatment at the Barbadian airport bore a strong resemblance to that of a Jamaican woman, Sonya King, who along with her 14-month-old child was refused entry.
King had arrived on August 27 from Trinidad, where she was living with her husband. She was made to sit and wait for hours following her denial of entry into the island.
According to King, when she complained of being hungry, officers pointed her to the vending machine, because the food court was closed.
Her baby also had to endure hours in wet pampers.
On September 01, the Office of the Prime Minister, that is responsible for defence and Security, issued a statement clearing immigration officers of any wrongdoing.
“An investigation was carried out by the Division of Defence and Security, Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry responsible for Immigration, and no evidence could be found to substantiate the charges of mistreatment as alleged,” the statement read in part.