Due to foreign investment in tourism and an abundance of oil and natural gas resources, Trinidad and Tobago is one of the top destinations for Caribbean refugees. As a result, Trinidad and Tobago is facing a multitude of challenges. The country’s borders are vulnerable and human traffickers are active as the country struggles with being the active transit point for North American and European migration. Discussed below are leading facts about refugees in Trinidad and Tobago and the challenges they face.
Top 10 Facts about Refugees in Trinidad and Tobago
- Available data suggests that one-third of Caribbean refugees reside in Trinidad and Tobago.
- Before 2012, Trinidad and Tobago would only receive around 20 to 30 refugees from different countries annually.
- In January 2013, there was an easing of restrictions with Cuba and a change in migration laws, giving people more freedom of migration and movement. This is when Trinidad and Tobago began receiving an influx of Cuban refugees.
- By 2014, Trinidad and Tobago received 100 refugees, and, by 2016, that more than doubled to 209 refugees.
- In response to the growing number of asylum-seekers, the government adopted an official refugee policy in June 2014 and the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) established an office in January 2016.
- In 2016, about 50% of refugees in Trinidad and Tobago were from Syria, followed by Cuba with 36%.
- The UNHCR office in Trinidad and Tobago provides technical and capacity-building advice to authorities, supports the development of an effective asylum system that aligns with the government’s refugee policy, and provides direct assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers through and in coordination with its implementing partner Living Water Community.
- The adoption of specific legislation ensures that refugees enjoy all the rights given by the 1951 Refugee Convention. However, there are no current avenues for refugees to legally integrate into the country. This prevents them from positively contributing to the development and prosperity of the nation, including its ideas, culture and knowledge.
- In Trinidad and Tobago, more than 40% of the refugee population comes from outside the Americas.
- In 2017, the country expects to host more than 400 refugees from multiple countries.
These facts about refugees in Trinidad and Tobago provide awareness about their current situation. Trinidad and Tobago has gradually become a more popular destination for refugees as an active middle point between European and American migration.
– Tucker Hallowell