The United Progressive Party (UPP) is categorically condemning the Gaston Browne Administration’s assertion that it accepts no responsibility for the West African migrants lost in the boat tragedy on Tuesday morning.
These persons were here, in Antigua, because the Administration – by its own admission – was duped into allowing three flights to land without the authorization of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA), the UPP says.
Subsequently, the Government afforded these unknown “visitors/refugees/opportunistic migrants” – all descriptions of the Prime Minister – visa waivers, the Party recalls. At last count, it says, the Cabinet was making arrangements to regularize their status and provide them with employment after a skills audit is undertaken.
Meanwhile, the UPP notes, the migrants who attempted to leave and were turned back by other countries – Guyana, Trinidad, Barbados and Grenada – were not detained by Immigration – even when they were found to be traveling on fake documents.
Rather, they were reintegrated until such time as they could leave by other means, the UPP points out.
“If all that is not taking responsibility, then what is?” asks Political Leader Jamale Pringle.
The Party notes that, during the press conference of Thursday, March 30, Immigration Chief Katrina Yearwood admitted that at least 200 of the migrants were known to have left the country in recent weeks, including via unofficial departure points.
“How, now, in the wake of this tragedy, can the Administration distance itself from what has happened to these human beings, who never set out to stay here in the first place, but were forced to do so because of Government’s foul-up?
“Blood is on the hands of the Browne Administration!” Pringle says.