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The sister of one of 33 nationals stranded in Barbados is appealing to the government to extend some assistance to help the now desperate nationals return home.

In an emailed letter to the Trinidad Guardian yesterday Merle Sultan-Khan, of Pickering, Ontario, Canada, said she was writing “out of concern for the Trinidadians who are stranded in Barbados.”

Sultan Khan said while she is familiar with the lockdowns at this time because of the COVID-19 virus, she is concerned “due to the aged group of people who went on a cruise and because its no fault of theirs, to be in the situation they are in.”

She is of the view that “the government should have some consideration in helping these people to return to their land of birth as Canada has done to repatriate its citizens who were born in Trinidad but living in Canada.”

The woman whose sister is among the 33 stranded in Barbados said the group comprises “elderly folks who left the island since February 25th going on a voyage not knowing what they were going to encounter on this particular journey. Its something that they have done many times, but this one just turned out differently,” she said.

Sultan khan said this could be anyone’s ‘aunt/uncle, grandmother/grandfather, mother/father. Just think if he/she was one of your own family member. Would you like to see this happening to them?”

Today april 20th makes it 54 days since they have been stranded in Barbados including a two week quarantine when they were all cleared for COVID-19.

Sultan Khan explained that the 33 were in quarantine on a ship many miles from South Africa for two weeks before they were able to dock, and then embarked on a flight to Dubai on to Gatwick and to Barbados. But on the morning they arrived in Barbados the T&T government “closed off all arrivals at midnight. They missed it by six hours. How sad for these people.’ she said.

The woman said “at this time they are running low on funds, food has to be purchased, accommodation has to be paid. Its not that they are staying by relatives! They are now talking with the Chief of “One Caribbean” to fly them to their beloved home Trinidad.”

But she said the group has been unable to get the required confirmation to land in Trinidad and Tobago from National Security Minister Stuart Young.

Sultan Khan said the cost per person for the flight is $5000 per person, a cost which they are paying, “so there is no money coming out of the island coffers to be worried about,” she said.

Appealing for some “mercy’ to be shown to the elderly folk, Sultan Khan said she is reminding the authorities that these are nationals, who are elderly and are citizens of this country.

She is hoping that the authorities would allow for their safe return to T&T.

The group had made a bid to journey home buy flying from South Africa to Dubai to London and then to Barbados.

They arrived in Barbados on March 23, a day after the Trinidad and Tobago Government closed the borders.