The closure of the Territory’s borders and the subsequent suspension of commercial flights has resulted in a number BV Islanders and Belongers being stranded out of the Territory. The plight of these citizens has not escaped Third District Representative Hon. Julian Fraser who called on the Government to consider bringing them home.
The Territory’s borders are expected to remain closed until 1 June when nationals are expected to be allowed in. However, while speaking in the House of Assembly on 16 April Hon. Fraser told the House of Assembly, “I want to suggest, Mr. Speaker, that all around the world countries have gone to great length, and they continue to do it, of repatriating their citizens.”
Hon. Fraser made his suggestion following Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Hon. Vincent Wheatley laid a number of immigration related statutory instruments on the table of the House of Assembly. He told his colleagues that countries such as Israel, Germany and South Africa chartered flights to ensure that their citizens were back home.
In making the case the Opposition Member said, “That is an expense, so what I want to suggest Mr Speaker, is that those folks that are trying to get into the BVI, where the Government has prohibited the Citizens from coming to the BVI, they have enormous debt and responsibility here, if the Government would assist in their expenditure that they have to outlay to stay where they are, around the world.”
The Senior Member of the House of Assembly said that the closing of the border trapped persons from the Territory who had travelled to Puerto Rico for the day to get medical treatment. He also noted that it is a stressful situation for these persons who might have pets in their home.
“You could imagine yourself just going abroad for a few days and learning that you can’t get back home. You may have a home here with pets and somebody is watching it, it’s a whole series of things, so just try to put yourself in these peoples’ positions and see how you can comfort them by easing their anxieties and all the expense they have to go through having to stay overseas,” the Third District Representative said.
Additionally, Hon. Fraser mentioned retired basketball star Tim Duncan is expected to bring some of the Territory’s college students to the neighbouring US Virgin Islands from the United States. However, the Legislator stated that because the borders are closed these students will be stranded in the USVI.
In noting the situation Hon. Fraser said, “And I know there are a plethora of cases all over and I think the Government should, if they decide on not bringing them home or allowing them to come home, these people, they are citizens, the Government should consider reaching out to these people and helping them in whatever situation they are.”