(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) – Trinidad and Tobago nationals stuck in Guyana and Venezuela have been given the green light by National Security Minister Stuart Young to return home.
However, Young said yesterday as was done with nationals who returned from Barbados and Suriname, they will have to make their own flight arrangements as the Government will not incur the cost for their return.
Speaking during the daily virtual Covid-19 news briefing, Young disclosed that exemptions have been given to allow the return of some 23 nationals who were working in Guyana and an undisclosed number of nationals in Venezuela and Margarita.
He said there were over 300,000 citizens all over the world and the Government has received many requests for permission to return.
“We have been receiving requests from nationals all over the world (including those in) India, the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia. The Government continues to protect the population of Trinidad and Tobago in a very careful manner and is managing the return of some of our nationals,” Young said.
“The next grouping I’ve given permission to enter T&T, we had some workers who are in Guyana. We’ve authorised them to return. They are in the process of making their travel arrangements to grant that final approval.
“That is going smoothly so far. It seems as though the vast majority of them were working in the oil sector down there. We estimate that it’s about 22 or 23. I have also begun to authorise those who’ve applied to return from Venezuela and Margarita.
“Again the Government is not incurring the cost of citizens returning. We are preparing for their return at which stage when they arrive the Chief Medical Officer and medical personnel from the Ministry of Health will decide as to how they are handled after they are medically examined and assessed.”
‘We have done our part’
Additionally, Young said approval has been granted to a national in the Bahamas who is experiencing some “medical issues”.
“The last correspondence I got from her was that she was trying to arrange, through her medical insurance, an air ambulance to return to T&T. The Government of T&T, unfortunately, cannot engage and enter in the repatriation of citizens who are stranded all over the world,” he stated.
Nationals in Venezuela have however said they are unable to charter a flight to bring them back to T&T because of the cost.
Last month, 33 nationals in Barbados returned to Trinidad after chartering a flight for US$25,000.
Questioned yesterday about the nationals in Venezuela who say they simply cannot afford to charter a plane, Young said the Government will absolutely not consider sending a repatriation flight.
“The answer is no. At this stage the Government cannot undertake to be sending repatriation flights all over the world.
“I have persons writing to me from Saudi Arabia, from the United Kingdom, from the United States, from India.
“What we’ve done is granted them permission….and that is where it stands at this stage. We have done our part. As we outlined from the word go, when we allow persons the opportunity to return in this managed way, it will be up to them to make their way here.”