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Refugees in Trinidad and Tobago
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

 

  1. Available data suggests that one-third of Caribbean refugees reside in Trinidad and Tobago.
  2. Before 2012, Trinidad and Tobago would only receive around 20 to 30 refugees from different countries annually.
  3. 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.
  4. By 2014, Trinidad and Tobago received 100 refugees, and, by 2016, that more than doubled to 209 refugees.
  5. 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.
  6. In 2016, about 50 percent of refugees in Trinidad and Tobago were from Syria, followed by Cuba with 36 percent.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. In Trinidad and Tobago, more than 40 percent of the refugee population comes from outside the Americas.
  10. 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

Photo: Google


Known for its beautiful beaches, tropical weather and delicious foods, Trinidad and Tobago is a dual-island Caribbean nation and a favorite vacation destination. The vast majority of its citizens live in Trinidad. Even though tourism accounts for less than 1 percent of Trinidad and Tobago’s entire economic output, about half of Tobago’s 60,000 residents are employed in the industry. Due to tourism’s importance, the government is extremely concerned with water quality in Trinidad and Tobago.

  1. Trinidad and Tobago have had issues with water quality in the past. In 2012, a “black, poisonous liquid run-off” from the Guanapo Landfill was discovered to have been polluting nearby water sources for 30 years. In 2009, the tap water in Arima, a Trinidadian borough, was found to have a level of mercury 150 percent greater than the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for inorganic chemicals.
  2. As of Feb. 17, Trinidad and Tobago’s Water and Sewage Authority (WASA) confirmed that the water it treats is safe to drink. The safe drinking water includes the water sources affected by the landfill mentioned above. Parliament established the WASA in 1965 to provide citizens throughout both islands with clean water.
  3. In 2015, improved water sources in Trinidad and Tobago were available to 95 percent of the population, a three percent increase from the 1990s.
  4. Another motivation for maintaining the water quality in Trinidad and Tobago is reverence for the ocean among the population. In a feature on this subject, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) technical adviser Neila Bobb Prescott told U.N. News about a number of local customs: After a child is born, they are taken to the beach to dip their feet in the saltwater to mark the occasion and “bring them to the age.” Prescott went on to say that people go to the ocean when they are having emotional and physical problems; some even drink a bit of saltwater to soothe an upset stomach.
  5. The WASA anticipates that the city of San Fernando’s population will rise to 111,600 by 2035. To accommodate this, it launched the San Fernando Wastewater Project. The goal is to construct a new wastewater treatment plant in the same place as the current one and replace all such plants currently operating within the project’s borders.

A year after construction began, contractor Triple ‘A’ Water Treatment Plant Limited said it had underpriced the project. To rectify this, the Inter-American Development Bank, which is already financing the project, agreed to provide the contractor with a $10 million second advance payment along with an attachment of terms and conditions.

While the water quality in Trinidad and Tobago has fluctuated, the citizens and government continue to do their best to keep it safe and clean.

Jada Haynes

Photo: Flickr


The education system in Trinidad and Tobago is one of the government’s highest priorities, and the country has an outstanding reputation in this regard. As of 2015, the country had a literacy rate of 96.9 percent according to UNESCO statistics and has steadily grown since the early nineties.

Education in Trinidad and Tobago is free and compulsory but accessible from the preschool age of three which is considered non-mandatory. After the completion of secondary school, students are given the option of staying on for an additional two years of high school which can lead to an advanced proficiency certificate and entry into a tertiary institution.

University in Trinidad and Tobago is free at the undergraduate degree and only approved at the University of the West Indies, the University of Trinidad and Tobago and the University of the Southern Caribbean. The government of Trinidad and Tobago also provides subsidies for some master’s programs making education in Trinidad and Tobago the best in the Caribbean.

In 2007, Trinidad and Tobago commenced a pilot study to focus on children with special needs outside of partnering with private preschools to develop four models that address childhood education.

Education in Trinidad and Tobago is considered one of the country’s greatest strengths and is very multi-faceted. Trinidad’s education sector stands out among emerging markets and ranks on the global competitiveness report. According to the OECD PISA score of Trinidad and Tobago, girls perform significantly better than boys statistically. A lot of students has also repeated a grade compared to other countries and economies also participating in PISA.

While education in Trinidad and Tobago has seen great improvement, particularly in curriculum design and strategic policy, the Ministry of Education and major stakeholders continue to be more innovative in their efforts to create a highly skilled, knowledgeable workforce.

Education is Trinidad and Tobago is considered one the most important development tools for the country.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a two-island nation located in the Caribbean, just north of Venezuela. The population there totals more than 1.3 million and has “one of the highest per-capita incomes in Latin America and the Caribbean.” As of 2016, about 100,000 people, or nearly eight percent of the population, were undernourished and nearly 30 percent were considered to be in poverty.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N., hunger in Trinidad and Tobago has been on the decline since the protein supply has increased over the past 10 years.

Despite this improvement, there is still work to be done. The World Bank determined Trinidad and Tobago to be the most wasteful country in terms of food per capita. Local nonprofit Nourish TT is working to end hunger in Trinidad and Tobago by serving as a connection between organizations that feed hungry people and businesses that have food left over.

By taking food that would have otherwise gone to waste and giving it to those who need it most, Nourish TT seeks to end hunger in the area. It is effectively changing the amount of food wasted through retail into meals. More than 36,000 kilos of food and nearly 90,000 meals have been donated through the organization.

Food for the Poor is a U.S. organization that is working to alleviate hunger in Trinidad and Tobago. Working on the islands since the late ’80s, Food for the Poor focuses on feeding people who are hungry, building housing for those in poverty and providing other types of aid. Over the last 30 years, the organization has been working with orphanages and building houses in Trinidad and Tobago.

Poverty and hunger are two issues that go hand in hand. In Trinidad and Tobago, strides are being made to eradicate both.

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr