The offices of the Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, St. Clair Circle, Port of Spain. (Image courtesy the Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs)

The Ministry of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs says it has provided almost US$206,000 (roughly TT$1.4 million) during September, in assistance to nearly 300 T&T nationals stranded abroad, because of the closed borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry made the disclosure in a news release issued to refute claims that it has not been doing enough to help stranded T&T citizens.

According to the Ministry’s statement, Trinidad and Tobago Overseas Missions have maintained contact with nationals of this country who were stranded overseas when this country’s borders closed on 22nd March 2020.

The Foreign Ministry notes that the Missions also have provided humanitarian assistance to nationals in the form of financial disbursements.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Missions have been able to successfully disburse US$205,958.99 (TT$1,395,995.66) to 298 nationals who sought assistance from the last week of August to the end of September 2020, under the instructions of the Ministry of Finance which provided the funds for the initiative,” the Foreign Ministry release explained.

“With specific reference to the United Kingdom, the High Commission disbursed the pound sterling equivalent of US$29,044.24 (TT$196,862.81) to nationals whose applications were approved,” the Ministry revealed.

The funds were disbursed via the following Missions:

●  High Commission of Trinidad and Tobago, London

●  Consulate General of Trinidad and Tobago, Miami

●  Consulate General of Trinidad and Tobago, New York

●  Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago, Washington, D.C.

●  Consulate General of Trinidad and Tobago, Toronto

The Ministry also responded to recent criticisms that authorities are not moving fast enough to grant travel exemptions for those nationals wishing to return home.

“Requests for exemption from border closure measures received from Trinidad and Tobago nationals at Trinidad and Tobago Missions are brought to the immediate attention of the Ministry of National Security, under whose responsibility the consideration and granting of these exemptions fall,” the Ministry explained.

It added: “Nationals are also guided to address their requests for exemption directly to the Minister of National Security, and to submit their applications to the Ministry of National Security e-mail address dedicated for receiving requests for exemption, [email protected].”

The Ministry also renewed its encouragement to nationals stranded overseas due to the COVID-19 pandemic to provide their contact details to the Trinidad and Tobago Mission that is closest to their location, to assist with expediting their requests for assistance.