PM Says Unwelcome Return For Jamaicans Not Deliberate

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness has conceded that the government should have arranged to feed the returning Jamaicans on their arrival at Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport last Wednesday.

At the same time, he said people searching for things to complain about will always protest.

“We don’t have perfect processes and we’re working under great stress,” the Prime Minister said.

After a nine-hour flight from the United Kingdom on Wednesday, the 119 Jamaicans reportedly had to wait more than two hours for processing and were only fed sandwiches after asking the authorities for something to eat.

It was also reported the Jamaicans were denied the use of restroom facilities as they waited to depart to their St Ann hotel for mandatory state quarantine.

One Jamaican ship worker said they were eventually allowed to use the restrooms after insisting that they were not criminals or refugees.

At a press conference on Monday evening, Holness said the failure to provide food was not deliberate.

With two more flights for repatriating Jamaicans scheduled for this week, the Prime Minister said there has been a review of the process to make it more comfortable for returning Jamaicans.

Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith, who also addressed the complaints, said the passengers were fed on the charter flight last week but not with hot meals.

“They are not luxury flights,” she said. “It’s an unfortunate set of trying circumstances.”

Some of the ship workers have said they only received sandwiches on the plane.

Holness would return to the lectern, saying, as a nation, there are greater concerns.

“We have to elevate the conversation in a time of crisis,” he said.

He continued: “I have to answer the question, yes, but I am very uncomfortable answering this question, which is broadcast internationally.” 

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