#UnitedKingdom, March 23, 2023 – To the chagrin of human rights activists, the UK is moving doggedly ahead with its plan to send refugees to Rwanda and is increasing the scope of the initiative following an introduction of the Immigration Bill in Parliament and a recent visit to the African nation by Suella Braverman, UK Home Secretary.
The plan now applies to ‘all categories of people who pass through safe countries and make illegal and dangerous journeys to the UK’ it will mean that anyone who comes to the UK illegally – who cannot be returned to their home country – will be relocated to Rwanda according to a Government debrief.
The UK has repeatedly described Rwanda as “safe” over the course of this deal.
It is an about face from several years prior, where the United Kingdom rated Rwanda poorly on its human rights record. Posted to the official government website is a July 2021 statement from Ambassador Rita French criticising Rwanda for ignoring recommendations by the UK to conduct transparent, credible and independent investigations into allegations of human rights violations and to screen, identify and provide support to trafficking victims, including those held in Government transit centres.
Yet months later this plan, announced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is endorsed.
Home Secretary Braverman said in a recent statement posted to the same website: “Rwanda is a progressive, rapidly growing economy at the forefront of innovation – I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing first-hand the rich opportunities this country can provide to relocated people through our partnership.”
Braverman met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta, last weekend (March 18 to 19) to discuss and expand the plans which have already cost the UK 140 million pounds. It will now ship desperate migrants to Rwanda; a country repeatedly condemned for its human rights violations with the possibility of cultural and language barriers to boot.
Rwanda, which is being paid for its part in this plan, will be able to take as many refugees as they like as the program is uncapped and the country is promising it can fit thousands there. It is said the deal will net them hundreds of millions of pounds from the UK.
The plan is the UK’s solution to its illegal migration challenges. Only time will tell if it will work to dissuade migrants who will find themselves relocated to Rwanda “where they will be supported to rebuild their lives.”
While the atrocities of the 1994 genocide of over half a million people remains an unresolved stain on the reputation of Rwanda; the country has worked hard to re-invent itself. Now, considered one of the safest in Sub Saharan Africa, with a mixed economy. Still, the landlocked country sitting in the centre of Africa, is ranked as among the lowest for standard of living and quality of life on the continent.
The US describes Rwanda as a country operating with extreme restrictions on free speech, politically motivated killings, politically motivated threats, harassments and surveillance and sustained allegations of torture.
The UK court must now consider these factors and decide whether the plan is legal and humane.
Stunning Space Opened for Turks & Caicos in Nassau
#TheBahamas, December 2, 2023 – The golden ribbon is cut and the Nassau-based Turks & Caicos diaspora office is officially unveiled. The opening ceremony, held at the new office, was attended by high-level delegates including Washington Misick, TCI Premier.
“I’m very proud and very privileged to be able to stand here and speak to you and I would especially like to thank someone who has become a friend in the person of the honorable Prime Minister of The Bahamas,” he said.
Bahamian support was critical in the venture, which sprung up as an answer to the TCIs desperate employment and immigration crisis. With hundreds of vacancies open across the public and private sector, and no one to fill them, the country needed more people but immigration rates were already far too high, posing a risk of disenfranchisement of islanders.
In order to fix both issues the government introduced a migration scheme allowing third-generation islanders with bloodline connections to claim citizenship. They quickly partnered with The Bahamas, one of the closest and the largest parts of its diaspora
Philip Davis, Prime Minister of The Bahamas was on hand while the Premier spoke and also brought remarks. The strong bond between the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas was emphasized by Davis, as he spoke
“The Turks and Caicos’s islands were part of the Bahamas, they even had a representative in our parliament. We were one nation,” he said.
Bahamian parliament has been supportive of the diaspora plan, which could see TCI-Bahamians migrating away from the Bahamas and into the Turks and Caicos, since its inception in early 2023.
The colors of the Turks and Caicos islands were on proud display in the newly office. Attendees were allowed to tour the building during the Grand Opening on November 28th.
Bright white and modern meeting areas with turquoise accents and TCI logos will be the backdrop for immigration negotiations
Also present at the event, a strong proponent of the grafting in third generation plan, Immigration Minister Arlington Musgrove, and Deputy Governor Anya Williams. The officials have now concretized a journey they started together in February when the idea of a Diaspora office was announced.
The office is the first of its kind established by the Turks and Caicos Islands. It is located on the 2nd Floor of The Bahamas Financial Center, Shirley and Charlotte Streets.
Turks & Caicos Islands Government Opens Diaspora Office in Nassau
#TheBahamas, December 2, 2023 – The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) Government earlier this week proudly inaugurated the Turks and Caicos Diaspora Office in Nassau, New Providence in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, on Tuesday, November 28th, 2023, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Hon. Philip “Brave” Davis, Premier Hon. Charles Washington Misick and the Deputy Governor of TCI, Her Excellency Anya Williams.
Deputy Governor Her Excellency Anya Williams expressed her sincere appreciation to The Bahamas government for the outstanding collaboration between the two countries, particularly in national security. She asserted, “The opening of this office here in The Bahamas will undoubtedly strengthen our ties with The Bahamas and create opportunities for even greater partnerships that will benefit the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
Premier Misick emphasized that The Bahamas and TCI have always had a strong bond, and the benefits of this relationship have been felt for many years. He declared, “The establishment of a Diaspora of the Turks and Caicos Islands Office in The Bahamas is a crucial initiative that will restore links with the diaspora and open up a productive line of communication to gauge interest in employment opportunities, investment and contributing to the development of the Turks and Caicos Islands.” He further added: “Whether in national security operations, education (many of our students have studied here), health care, or even cultural enthusiasts who partake in junkanoo, we must continue to learn and lean on each other.
Minister of Immigration and Border Force Hon. Arlington Musgrove, who initially led the establishment of the office, stated: “This evening signifies a significant and timely accomplishment in the long history of our two nations. Progressive relationship building is the term I use to describe the establishment of this office today. Beyond a diaspora office, we hope to foster closer ties through business, investment, education, and training to benefit our two countries. I am proud of my government taking this bold, progressive step and proud of the vision of our Premier, who has worked so assiduously to make this evening a reality.”
The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas brought remarks on the evening and joined the other dignitaries for the ribbon cutting.
The office is a part of the government’s broader diaspora policy, which aims to aid in the creation of programs to capture, connect and harness contributions and connection from the TCI citizens residing outside of the TCI, increase the representation of the number of persons in the population with connection and roots in the TCI and lastly, to provide opportunity and incentive for eligible members of the diaspora to invest and have access to investment and philanthropic opportunities in the TCI.
The office is now open at The Bahamas Financial Centre. Two Liaison Officers have been appointed; Canon Curtis Robinson is based in Freeport, Grand Bahama, and A. Vernay Mills is based in Nassau, New Providence.
CARPHA Remembers Former PAHO Director Emeritus – Dr. Carissa Etienne as a “Tireless Advocate for Regional Solidarity”
Port of Spain, Trinidad. 01 December, 2023: It is with profound sadness and shock that I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends, people of Dominica, the Caribbean Community and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), on the untimely passing of PAHO Director Emeritus, Dr. Carissa Etienne.
Dr. Etienne’s contributions to public health in the Americas were not only significant, but also transformative. Her leadership and unwavering commitment to our Caribbean Community’s collective pursuit of healthier people, healthier spaces and a healthier Caribbean were a source of inspiration to many. Dr. Etienne was a tireless advocate for The Americas’ regional solidarity, for she knew that was the only way to address the glaring inequalities that exist here.
She was the Director at PAHO for most of the life of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and under her leadership, CARPHA graduated from the PAHO Biennial Work Programme (BWP) arrangement to having framework agreements.
PAHO funded many of the programmes that are difficult to attract support, like the Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) and the Medicines Quality Control and Surveillance Department (MQCSD), which are important services for the Region to ensure the quality of medicines. Under Dr. Etienne’s leadership, PAHO also funded non-communicable disease interventions, another area that does not attract large pots of funding, although the number one cause of deaths in the Caribbean region.
During the Pandemic, CARPHA worked with PAHO to fund the downpayments to give 12 Member States access to COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX to the tune of US$2.6 million.
Dr. Etienne will be remembered as a true Caribbean lady who worked with great dedication and focus throughout the horrible COVID-19 period and right up to her last working day at PAHO.
During this challenging time, we pray that God will give strength to Dr. Etienne’s family, friends, and colleagues. CARPHA cherishes the memories of her remarkable contributions to the well-being of individuals and communities throughout the Americas, but especially the Caribbean.
The CARPHA Executive Management and staff stand in solidarity with our Caribbean Community as we mourn the loss of a visionary leader.
Dr. Joy St. John
Executive Director, CARPHA
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