Strengthening Support for the Migrant Population in Tobago

Assemblyman Dr. Faith B.Yisrael, Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection and Assemblyman Sonny Craig, Assistant Secretary of Health, Wellness and Social Protection received a courtesy visit from a team of persons from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) earlier today (Tuesday 26th April, 2022). The delegation was led by Jewel Ali, Head of Office, IOM and included Tinestia Haynes, Case Coordinator; Zeke Beharry, Project Officer and Kandy Serrant, Reporting and Communications Officer. The Secretary and Assistant Secretary were joined by Jason Nancis, Advisor to the Secretary.

The discussions centred on IOM’s implementation of two ‘Trafficking in Persons’ projects: one that will provide mental health and psychosocial support to migrant victims and the other that will provide upgrades to safe spaces for migrants. Ms. Ali and her team also shared other types of services / support provided by IOM, which include: direct assistance to migrants in communities (food and hygiene support etc.); trainings with several front line personnel on proper migrant victim care; technical support for Government agencies to develop policies and legislation supporting migrants and provision of resources to community groups that execute projects which will help migrants.

Ms. Ali also expressed IOM’s commitment to send their project proposals for the Division / Tobago House of Assembly’s input, so that areas of collaboration could be identified and that the necessary guidance could be given on the best use of the resources to benefit migrants residing in Tobago.

Secretary B.Yisrael expressed her gratitude for the visit and welcomed the type of support IOM can provide for the migrant population living in Tobago. She said “We need the help…We do have a migrant population in Tobago but I’m not sure the level of help they currently receive. This is definitely a great opportunity to improve that.”

Dr. Faith also explained that there is a need for more publicity about IOM and their services. She said “Before this meeting, I was not aware of all that IOM does and that may be the reason why we [Division / Tobago House of Assembly] don’t reach out as frequently or at all. It may be worthwhile getting more persons / agencies to understand what IOM does and that can start the conversation for greater collaboration with projects.

Ms. Ali explained that IOM is seeking to execute more projects in Tobago and requires input from the THA on the proposed projects. She said “We need to improve our relations with the THA. We wish to be directed on how to approach these projects in Tobago and we need you to tell us anything that needs to be adjusted.”

IOM is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. They work to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration: to promote international cooperation on migration issues; assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.

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