Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer
PORT ANTONIO, Portland:Twenty-five Haitians, including a two-year-old baby, who landed in Portland on Tuesday, were repatriated shortly after midday yesterday, via a Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Coast Guard vessel.
The Haitians, who spent three days at a Seventh-day Adventist Church facility in Port Antonio, appeared to be in good spirits shortly before they boarded the Coast Guard boat.
Mayor of Port Antonio, Benny White, who was on hand to witness the sending-off, told The Gleaner that the Haitians were well cared for during their 72-hour stay at the Adventist facility.
"They were provided with regular meals during their stay," he said. "I also learned that this group of Haitians was well behaved and that they expressed thanks for whatever items were given to them. The Red Cross, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Adventist Relief Agency, the Portland Parish Council, residents, and business operators all contributed during the stay of the Haitians."
NO STRAIN ON RESOURCES
White pointed out that there was never any strain on the parish's resources to deal with the Haitian refugees, as catering to just 25 persons was a relatively simple matter.
But while the Haitians were adequately fed and given shelter for three days with what appeared to be minimum effort, would an influx of 100 or more illegal immigrants pose any real challenge to the relevant state agencies, civil-society groups, residents and business operators?
The mayor admitted that it would probably pose a serious challenge, as not only is a place of long-term shelter not available, but it also would create a serious burden on donor agencies.
The Haitians were fed and received medical checks before their departure from the Ken Wright shipping pier.