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59 Disable Orphans embraced by Jamaica; the hard road out of Haiti

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

#Jamaica, March 26, 2024 – Fifty-nine disabled Haitian orphans and 13 of their caregivers arrived in Portland Jamaica by boat after 36 hours on the water, on Thursday March 21st, fleeing from the quickly collapsing gang-run, Haiti.

The Haitian refugees are from the HaitiChildren Charity in Haiti, which has fallen victim to gangs.  While they are in Jamaica, they will be housed at Mustard Seed Communities, an internationally renowned Catholic charity in Kingston.

Efforts to bring the children to Jamaica were being made for months but despite authorization by the Jamaican Government and from Mustard Seed, they were awaiting permission from the Haitian Government to leave Haiti.

Arielle Jeanty Villedrouin, head of Haiti’s Child Welfare Agency, pushed back at the effort saying that transferring an orphanage from one country to another, was “inconceivable and legally inadmissible.”

Reluctance was also fueled by Haiti’s history of children being taken from the country during  crises and never seen or heard from again.

Nine children died during the wait for approval from the Haitian Government; it has been 14-months of hellish conditions due to the gang activity also blamed for intercepting aid and food for vulnerable people in Haiti.

Susie Krabacher is the Co-founder of the HaitiChildren Charity and in speaking to the Miami Herald shared much of the harrowing predicament.

Paul Marie, one of the children who was supposed to be in Jamaica with the others, died on Christmas night at an understaffed and ill-equipped hospital, after being taken to three different health facilities, none of which were equipped to take care of him.

After all that, thanks to the now former Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, they were able to legally make the trip to Jamaica, as he signed the required agreement before he stepped down on March 12, says Krabacher.

Considering that, the issue wasn’t coming to Jamaica, it was leaving Haiti, as pointed out by Krabacher, Co-founder of HaitiChildren, in reports on RJR News.

She says just last week, they tried to transport the kids to Jamaica by plane, but the pilot was barred from taking off from Haiti, hence the reason they came by boat.

After they left the orphanage, the bus carrying the children and their caregivers was stopped by armed men according to Krabacher, who was already in Jamaica monitoring the situation by phone.  After hours on the phone with staff, they managed to get the bus free and they were finally on their way.

Krabacher reports that the children showed tremendous courage and strength despite the delays and being stopped when so close to being on their way to better care.

“They are all smiles.  They all kept talking over one another into the phone, ‘Mom, tell daddy we are not afraid!  Mom, we are so happy. ‘Thank you, mom and daddy.  You kept your promise!  Will you be there, mom?” she told the Herald.

Krabacher, who is from the US, informed that they were trying to get the children to America but their efforts were shut down by the Haitian government for reasons not mentioned, if known.

This huge accomplishment comes after Jamaica’s Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith and Prime Minister Andrew Holness were consulted in June 2023 about taking the children in when Haitian political and civil society leaders met Kingston, Jamaica, for negotiations with Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

Reports say Johnson-Smith was  in communication with Mustard Seed’s founder, Priest Gregory Ramkissoon, their conversations centered on how the government could grant temporary legal status to the children and their caregivers, and their care at Mustard Seed.

Johnson-Smith describes the mission as one of mercy, and it’s indeed so as not only is Mustard Seed willing to take the refugees in, they are also willing to take care of them at no cost, according to David Silvera, Mustard Seed’s head of business development, as reported by the Herald.

The children and caregivers were welcomed by officials  from the Portland Health Department, police and Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard. They were processed and given food.

The orphanage is located in the town of Arcahaie and was targeted by gangs. Gangs not only stole their food, but also threatened to kill the children. And staff members have been kidnapped.

Caribbean News

Yellow Fever Outbreak in Region and Beyond, Travellers Warned

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer 

 

#YellowFever#Caribbean, April 10, 2024 – Reports say there is an outbreak of Yellow fever in the Caribbean according to the Department of Health and official government advice website, Travel Health Pro, and travelers are being warned to be vigilant. The authorities say the outbreak is also in parts of Africa, and Central and South America.

Guyana and Peru so far have seen two cases. Brazil reports the disease in monkeys, an indication that it is spreading across the ccounty. Colombia has seen 3 cases.

In South America, between January 1 and March 18 2024, there have been seven confirmed cases, four fatal.

Yellow fever is spread by mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti (Linnaeus) and can cause potentially fatal hemorrhagic illness. Fortunately, it can be prevented with vaccination and so the World Health Organisation (WHO) is advising people ages nine months and older, traveling to the affected areas, to get vaccinated.

 

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Caribbean News

Four Year Old Beheaded Trinidad 

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer 

#Homicide#FourYearOld#TrinidadandTobago, April 9, 2024 – Trinidad was left in shock and sorrow with the beheading of a four year old girl, reportedly by her stepfather, early Tuesday April 9, at her home in Arouca, a town in the East-West Corridor of Trinidad and Tobago. The Police informed that when they arrived on the scene, the head of the little girl, identified as Amarah Lallitte, was in one room and her body in another.  

 

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Caribbean News

CariSECURE 2.0 Equipping Youth to Take Charge Against Crime

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Bridgetown, 9 April, 2024 – Amidst rising concerns over citizen security in the Caribbean, a deliberate effort is being made to empower the region’s youth to step into leadership roles and drive change from within. Through a free, online course by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), youth will be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle pressing security challenges head-on.

The “Youth on the way to Peace and Security” course is being launched regionally as part of CariSECURE 2.0 (CS2.0), which works to reduce youth involvement in crime and trafficking in persons (TIP) in the region. It will run from 16 April – 3 May, with support from InfoSegura.

This course comes at a crucial time when security issues like crime and violence are on the rise in the Caribbean. By the end of the course, participants will have improved understanding of regional security challenges, enhanced leadership skills, and greater opportunity to network with peers and experts around the region, empowering them to take leadership roles in regional conversations and citizen security activities.

Maia Hibben, Project Manager for CariSECURE 2.0, underscored the significance of engaging young people in matters of citizen security.  ” Throughout the life of our project, input from young people has been invaluable,” she said. “Whether it be helping to craft national workplans to reduce crime, developing a roadmap for youth empowerment in the Caribbean, or creating digital solutions to improve crime reporting as planned for this year, youth have proven that their perspectives are indispensable. This course is just another way for youth to strengthen their skills to address regional security challenges.”

By building capacity of young leaders to address security challenges and promote social cohesion, the course contributes directly to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 16, towards Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.

The course will offer lessons in the current mechanisms that impact youth decision making, insight into youth citizen security challenges in the Caribbean, and give practical guidance on the positive roles participants can play in conflict resolution, with complementary webinars, podcasts and practical resources tailored to the English-speaking Caribbean. It is free of charge and open to participants from all backgrounds, regardless of age, nationality, or level of experience. A certificate will be awarded upon completion.

Register for the course by 15 April: escuelavirtualpnud.org/login/index.php?lang=en

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