PM: Efforts being made to bring home citizens from Syria, Iraq

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this file May 2021 file photo, women walk in the al-Hol camp in Syria that houses some 60,000 refugees, including families and supporters of the Islamic State group, many of them foreign nationals. – AP PHOTO

THE Prime Minister said no Trinidad and Tobago nationals who are in conflict zones in Syria have been repatriated to date.

But Dr Rowley gave the assurance that efforts to do so are ongoing.

He made these statements in the House of Representative on January 26.

“The Governmment of Trinidad and Tobago is committed to ensuring that the return of qualified persons is organised in a way that balances the needs of those returning with the national security considerations that’s in the best interest of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Rowkey sad this is “a highly sensitive and complex matter.”

He reminded MPs that last March, Government took a policy decision to attempt to repatriate ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)-affliated Trinidad and Tobago nationals who are in various locations in Syria and in Iraq.

Rowley said that involved the creation of a three man repatriation committee working alongside with an inter-ministerial committee called Task Force Nightingale that was formed in 2018.

The team consists of former speaker of the House Nizam Mohammed, former diplomat Patrick Edwards and Kewsi Atiba.

Rowley said this team provides an invaluable interface between civil society and Government in order to repatriate Trinidad and Tobago nationals in Syria and Iraq.

He added that the National Security Ministry continues to look at how to successfully reintegrate these people into society while balancing national security considerations.

Rowley said the team is well resourced and further resources could be provided to it if necessary.

Later in the sitting, Rowley said he will be going to the United States on January 28 to begin rounds of talks with government officials there on matters of mutual interest such as energy, trade and cyber security.