(CNC3) – The mother of a 13-year-old Trinidadian national who was denied passage on the Galleons Passage from St Vincent and the Grenadines to Trinidad last week is calling for the National Security Minister to investigate.
Natasha James said her 13-year-old daughter was initially cleared to board the vessel in St Vincent on April 14.
But the girl, along with two other children, were soon made to disembark the vessel when it was found they were travelling alone. A total of 75 nationals were repatriated after the vessel delivered aid to the volcano ravaged island on April 13.
Former National Security Minister Stuart Young had said the Government could not allow minors who had no supervision to board the vessel. He said further, no arrangements were in place in Trinidad for those three minors to be received by either parents or guardians.
But James said that was not her daughter’s case.
“Immigration officers had checked in my daughter, she had received a stamp from SVG immigration officers and when the boat about to leave SVG she was boarded on the vessel and the Immigration called me and it was like minutes to 11, telling me that the child have to come off the vessel,” James told Guardian Media.
She said she had made arrangements in Trinidad for her daughter to be taken care of by her maternal grandmother.
But she said once the child boarded, a woman who agreed to take responsibility for her on the journey reneged and the child was put off the vessel.
“It had one lady on the vessel she had agreed to be responsible for the children in quarantine, she had signed some documents I understand and all of that changed so they took her off the vessel.”
Even so, James believes her daughter’s health should be factored in.
She said the teen has sickle cell anemia and was being adversely affected by the ash from the explosive eruptions of the La Soufriere volcano.
‘She has full-blown to sickle cells, she cannot be exposed too much dust that is one of the reasons I was sending her for my mother. She was not feeling well at that time when she was about to go Trinidad. The dust was irritating her eyes, she had runny eyes, shortness of breath, that is what I told the Immigration officer, out of all the children on the vessel, my child was ill so I didn’t like what happened,” James said.
She said she believes in the event of a natural disaster like the explosive eruptions of La Soufriere, sick children should be given priority.
“She is a Trinidad and Tobago national and I find it was disrespectful and I find in the event of anything, the first person supposed to be boarding a ship like that is the children, they leave all the big people on the ship and take off the child. I didn’t like that situation…I am asking National Security to look into this thing ,” James said.