Social activist Reverend David Durant is pleading with Government to step in now and help the group of Haitians stranded in Barbados.
Reverend Durant said getting the young men between the ages of 21 and 36 back home must be the authorities’ first priority. He said Government’s intervention was urgently needed because, in his opinion, the situation has reached an “unsustainable proportion”.
On Tuesday, Barbados’ Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) David Comissiong told Barbados TODAY that Government was looking at the idea of placing new travel restrictions on Haiti because the number of Haitians who have come to the island looking for work had reached worrying levels.
Durant said he was worried about the Haitians’ response to not having the money to be able to provide basic necessities for themselves.
Almost every day, Haitians are headed to Durant’s Brittons Hill, Restoration Ministries
Church, asking for help with return plane tickets, in addition to food and other necessities, because they have run out of money.
“This is more serious than people think. I think people need to be aware of it because we don’t want this to go into a deeper crisis. Right now let us deal with the crisis that we have here,” he said.
“I could understand how the Government is thinking because I believe this has gotten out of hand. So I believe they are putting restrictions so that we can avoid this type of dilemma that we are facing.
“We have a number of Haitians here who do not have accommodation, who cannot find work because their passport stamp is for six months but work is prohibited, and they have run out of money to support themselves.
“Therefore, they can become a liability or they can begin doing things that should not be done in order to gain money, and we do not want that kind of thing happening here. Some of them are being exploited because they are being asked to do things and are not being paid,” Durant said.
Last August, Government removed visa requirements for Haitians to enter Barbados. Since then, a large number of citizens from that nation have been coming to Barbados, after paying between US$2 500 and US$3000, to an agency that promised them they would get work and accommodation when they get here. In late December, 15 Haitians were evicted from a house in Bonnetts, Brittons Hill, St Michael home, after a disagreement with the landlord.
Dr Durant has so far managed to send home one young man who had health complications and two others are scheduled to leave within the next week on tickets bought from donations.
“There are about ten more to go, and they do not have money to purchase return tickets. I would like to appeal to the Haitian government, in light of the people of the country being misled to come here on the false notion that they can work, to now intervene and help to get their citizens back home so that we can put an end to this part of the suffering that they are experiencing,” Durant said.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Comissiong told Barbados TODAY that Government would be meeting tomorrow to consider a number of options to deal with the problem, including adopting a policy similar to one used by Dominica where Haitians pay a US$400 bond before entering the country and this money is used to purchase return tickets if they overstay the time granted. The money is returned if they leave the country within the period granted them.