Dr. Morais Guy, Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs
A suggestion has come from the Parliamentary Opposition that the Government provides special shelter to nationals of Dominica who have been affected by Hurricane Maria.
Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs Dr. Morais Guy, says while the Trinidad government is relaxing its immigration policy to allow Dominicans to enter under certain conditions, Jamaica has always been open to nationals of CARICOM using similar criteria.
He has offered two other recommendations that the government could consider.
"If they can find friends and relative who are willing to accommodate them for a particular period of time. Or two, those who do not, then the government could also consider having some form of accommodation for them whether in hostels or camps...until the rebuilding process can take place in Dominica," he suggested.
Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley, has expressed disappointment at negative comments following an invitation extended to displaced Dominicans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Dr. Rowley, who was a guest on a television station Friday morning, reacted to reports that some Trinidadians were saying that the humanitarian gesture was a means of the ruling Peoples National Movement (PNM), securing votes in upcoming elections.
The prime minister said he would not dignify the claim with a response.
Asked if he expected political backlash over his decision to ease immigration restrictions and allow Dominicans into the country, Dr. Rowley said the people of Trinidad and Tobago are caring and therefore, he is not expecting a political fallout.
Dr. Rowley said the decision is a response to a specific natural disaster for a specific period of time and the Dominicans are therefore expected to return home.
However, he added that under the United Nations charter to which Trinidad and Tobago is a signatory, if people arrive in the country without a place to stay, they would become wards of the State.
The prime minister on Thursday announced that his administration will wave the immigration requirements for residents of Dominica for a period of six months as the CARICOM member state rebuilds.
He also said places could be made available in schools across the twin island republic for Dominican children to continue their education.
Dominicans taking up the offer must be able to clearly identify friends or family who will be able to accommodate them.
In the meantime, Dominica is to receive more than US$19 million from the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF).
In a statement on Friday, CCRIF said Dominica will receive the payout under its tropical cyclone policy. It added that the payout will be made within 14 days of the hurricane.
CCRIF was designed to provide quick financial support to governments of the Caribbean and Central America following catastrophes.
Dominica also holds an excess rainfall policy with CCRIF and assessments as to whether it was triggered are ongoing and will be determined in the next few days.
Meanwhile, two towns in western Puerto Rico have been evacuated in the wake of Hurricane Maria, after a dam failed, causing extremely dangerous flooding.
The US National Weather Service said the municipalities of Isabela and Quebradillas, home to 70,000 people, were being evacuated with buses because of a crack in the dam.
The 316-meter dam holds back a manmade lake covering about two square miles and was built decades ago.
In the meantime, Hurricane Maria has battered the Turks and Caicos with fierce winds and rain but is now heading away from the islands.
The National Hurricane Centre last tracked the storm about 90 miles north of the archipelago, and about 420 miles east-southeast of Nassau, Bahamas.
Hurricane Maria is moving in a north-northwest direction at a speed of nine miles per hour.
A gradual weakening is forecast during the next 48 hours, with the cyclone passing portions of the Bahamas.