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Why abandon Trinidad and Tobago Muslim wives and children in Syria and Iraq?

Dear Sir

Dr Keith Rowley, Stuart Young and Faris Al Rawi are showing a callous lack of care and concern for Muslim wives and children stranded in Syria and Iraq, who are desperately seeking to return to their families in Trinidad and Tobago.

Many of the children are there through no fault of their own. They have run out of funds and are facing alienation. Therefore, why is this Peoples National Movement (PNM) administration so cruel and heartless to our citizens stranded abroad, many of whom have reached the point of utter desperation.

From local media reports, we know of at least 12 Trinidad and Tobago women and children at the Al-Hol Refugee Camp in Syria under cruel, inhumane, and unsanitary conditions, facing the threat of COVID-19.

Most disheartening is Al Rawi’s total lack of interest and care for these stranded Trinidad and Tobago Muslims given his self-profession of a Muslim bloodline. He treats Trinidad and Tobago Muslims there – just as his constituents in San Fernando West, as if they do not exist.

Following a recent article stating that Trinidad and Tobago women and children are still languishing in Syria, I called on Al Rawi, Young and Dr Rowley to take action.

For years the United National Congress (UNC) has been pleading with this PNM administration to seek the interests of our nationals in Syria and Iraq since many of the women and children there are not there by choice.

Unfortunately, this government has taken no action on the premise that those stranded abroad are not entitled to the full protection of the state.

This treatment, however, does not only apply to those in Iraq and Syria; it also applies to those stranded abroad due to COVID-19. Our nationals are reportedly without proper food, some have resort to night shelters to receive a bowl of soup. We have heard stories of babies being fed sugar water and some nationals have been left with no other choice but to take up odd jobs to pay for accommodation.

According to recent reports in the Guardian, our citizens feel broken, tired and rejected. They feel denied. One citizen stranded overseas for the past four months stated that it feels as though my rights has being taken away, while non-citizens are getting invited to the country.

In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, the EU established a Consular Coordination Task Force to coordinate the repatriation of its citizens stranded worldwide due to border closures, travel bans and other restrictions. Over a half a million EU nationals were able to return home.

Government has the responsibility to protect all of their citizens at all costs. Why has minister Young ignored the cries of most of our citizens abroad? Why are our citizens left to suffer, while they are continuously begging to return to their homes and families?

These people are citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. As a child of privilege, minister Young clearly cannot understand what it is like for those citizens there and has therefore taken a hands-off approach.

Time and time again the heartless style of governance that characterises this Dr Rowley led PNM, is visible.

A UNC government would have used diplomatic channels years ago to investigate the persons in Syria and Iraq, determine their status and provide support where necessary. It is the humane thing to do.

The time has come for Dr Rowley, Al Rawi and Young to realise that their job is to serve the people and nothing more.

Rodney Charles

Member of Parliament, Naparima




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