Wed | Jan 23, 2019

Can Jamaica be a place of refuge?

Published:Thursday | September 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM


In the Middle East, people are being persecuted, driven from their homes, murdered, decapitated and blown up. Many of those fleeing meet death in the choppy waters of the Mediterranean Sea; we all recall the image of the drowned three-year-old boy.

I would like to suggest that the Jamaican government announce its intention, in agreement with the Opposition, to take in between 5000 and 10000 of these refugees from the Middle East. We have a sizable part of our people who have a Syrian and/or Lebanese background going back well over 100 years, many of whom have done very well both for themselves and for Jamaica, so there is absolutely a precedent for welcoming people to our shores from that part of the world.

Obviously, our taking these numbers would place a significant economic burden upon us, one that we, in the present circumstances simply cannot undertake. However, if the United Nations and members of the international community , perhaps the European Union, were willing to compensate Jamaica, to fund the project, for land usage, for food, water, etc., then I see no reason why this, both Christian and humanitarian gesture, could not be made. Many of the refugees are Christians, many have a usable English which would make communication easy.

Lastly, Jamaica can well use an influx of competent, reasonably well educated people. Many of the refugees have "marketable skills" which would be of benefit to both us and to them.

Our motto is "Out of many, One People." Or did I misunderstand something?

Christopher Mais