International refugee agencies invited to review situation of West Africans and make recommendations to the Government

The Cabinet reportedly has invited two international agencies – The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – to look into the situation of the West Africans stranded here as a result of the Antigua Airways debacle.

The Browne Administration says the agencies will specifically look at the West Africans who arrived here three months ago and is predicting that their investigation will “likely reveal who wants to return and who prefers to stay.”

Following that exercise, the UNHCR and the IOM will then make recommendations to the Government, and these recommendations will be used to decide on what to do with the visitors.

But the West African fiasco could still cause some international embarrassment to the country, says United Progressive Party (UPP) Mobilization Officer George Wehner.

Wehner says he is still convinced that this was a situation of migrant trafficking – which many of the West Africans have admitted, saying they were told that Antigua and Barbuda was simply to be a transshipment point to other countries.   

The mobilization officer notes that some of the visitors have flown to other countries and have been returned here, since they were found with false travel documents.

According to Wehner, Antiguans and Barbudans may soon have difficulty accessing visas to other countries if this situation is not addressed immediately.