Desperate to return home following the death of his mother and the condition of his seven-month pregnant wife, a T&T national in Suriname has made an urgent request to National Security Minister Stuart Young for an exemption for entry.
Ken King Fook was one of seven Trinidadians working in Suriname when this country’s borders closed and who now want to return home. Their employer has already made arrangements to charter a flight to bring them home and they are willing to foot the quarantine costs if necessary.
King Fook said the group was unable to return with an initial batch of their compatriots who returned home on May 1 because they were still contractually obligated to their company. His obligation ended at the end of May and he had initially been prepared to wait until the borders reopened until his family issues arose.
In a telephone interview yesterday, King Fook explained, “Owing to the situation of my wife’s now high-risk pregnancy and then my mother’s sudden passing, that is the reason why we are now looking to get the exemptions for entry into Trinidad.”
King Fook, his company and relatives have sent several requests for exemption but all been denied by Young.
Explaining why it is important for him to return home, King Fook, in his email to the minister, said his mother died three weeks ago and is in a funeral home as relatives await his return and his wife is due to give birth in August but the stress and mental fatigue as a result of the situation is putting the baby at risk.
“With respect, dear Minister, it is very confusing to me and difficult to understand how exemptions are being granted to other nationals who have simply ‘been away too long’ on a daily basis, while mine is repeatedly denied given the aforementioned reasons and also contradicting the statement that was made on 27-MAY-20 stating ‘all’ nationals would be allowed entry into T&T on a ‘managed basis’ with the necessary requirements met. I empathise with every single national attempting a return to T&T, but how many of them have dire circumstances as outlined above?” King Fook wrote in his request.
King Fook’s sister-in-law Richelle De Souza also yesterday appealed to Young to be compassionate and allow him to return home in her request.
When contacted via WhatsApp yesterday, Young recalled that last month nationals in Suriname were allowed to return, were quarantined on their return and have since been reunited with their families.
However, he said, they have been working assiduously to manage the return of all nationals abroad.
“This exercise requires a careful balancing of the numbers that can be quarantined by the state to ensure that any possible re-importation of COVID-19 does not overwhelm our public health system designated for COVID cases,” Young said.
“We are very sympathetic to the thousands of our nationals who wish to return to Trinidad and Tobago. Each national has his/her own set of circumstances which contain personal difficulties and it is a difficult task to manage these thousands of requests.”
Young said they are currently managing the return of nationals from Guyana, Venezuela, cruise ships, oil rigs and students in Jamaica and Barbados.
“The number of nationals in these categories are in the hundreds,” Young said, adding that careful management of the return of nationals is critical to protect the population, including those in quarantine facilities.