Red Cross calls for better treatment of refugees

| 17/06/2015 | 25 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cubans signal for help from a sinking raft, 10 June 2015

(CNS): Government needs to improve the way it treats the Cuban refugees that find their way to Cayman, a local charity has stated. With almost two dozen migrants currently awaiting deportation at the detention centre in Fairbanks, the Cayman Islands Red Cross said that no single agency can address the refugee issue here and civil society has an important role to play in helping those who leave their homes because of war, human rights abuses or other political pressures.On the eve of World Refugee Day (WRD), which will be marked this coming weekend when the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) commemorates the strength and resilience of the more than 50 million people around the world forced to flee their homelands, the Red Cross said the local community doesn’t always appreciate the plight of refugees because it is a common occurrence here.

Just this weekend five Cuban migrants were forced to swim ashore to Little Cayman after their boat capsized on the southwest side of the island. This follows the rescue of 18 migrants at sea by the RCIPS Marine Unit last week when they were stranded in a makeshift boat 25 miles south of Little Cayman.

Despite the risks that are taken by Cubans as they try to make it to central America, often in dangerous homemade vessels across treacherous seas, the frequency of their arrival sometimes makes us indifferent to their suffering.

“I think that, due to the fact that it is a somewhat regular occurrence here in Cayman, we don’t often take the time to really think about what it takes to leave one’s home country,” said Cayman Islands Red Cross Director Jondo Obi. “To pick up and leave everything behind — and often times that includes family, children — is an incredibly difficult decision, not made lightly.  It is really brave.”

The Red Cross is working with both the UNHCR as they share the mission of helping vulnerable people in crisis and treating them with dignity and humanity with government to improve the way which we currently deal with refugees.

“One of the things that became very clear at these consultation conferences is that no single agency will be able to address this issue, so it is important to recognize that civil society has an important role to play. Furthermore, there is no need to reinvent the wheel as there are great examples of best practices within the region. All we need to do is share our experiences with our neighbors and learn from each other,” added Obi.

Deputy Director Carolina Ferreira pointed out that refugees are ordinary people living in extraordinary times, and that they are not just a burden to the societies where they seek refuge.

“There is this notion that a refugee is a drain on local services, a problem, another mouth to feed or body to clothe, but that is far from the truth,” she said. “If we keep looking at people in terms of dollars and cents we strip them of their dignity as well as their talents, and the immeasurable contributions they can make, not only to their local communities but to the world. Look at Einstein! We all know he was a genius, but how many of us know that he too was a refugee?”

For more information on the work with refugees by the Red Cross, contact

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Comments (25)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why is my comment after reading the first sentence of the article? They’ve made the decision to flea, probably on the run from the law where they’ve originated from so I’d be minded not to help at all and use the cash saved in doing something worthwhile and of benefit to the Island.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It might be “really brave” but its also really illegal when they enter our waters. When we assist such migrants we really contribute to the negative impacts endured by the countries that they ultimately really sneak into.

  3. Anonymous says:

    For all of the do-gooders, who want Cayman to do more, please contact Immigration so that you can put up the refugees in your own house. Words are cheap, so why don’t you take action yourself ? House them, sponsor them, adopt them, marry them ! Don’t wait for government to do what you suggest.

  4. 345guy says:

    Sorry, but a point of order here. I wish all these special interest groups would buzz off.

    After Ivan, the ONLY people who got help from the Red Cross were the Brits (or Brats to some). Face FACTS. These are the same people that are telling us we are wrong but hiding their own dirt. Grow up and get a life folks. Opportunists all of them.

    We Caymanians need to stop believing that we are inadequate. The older generation did it, that is why they accomplished so much. Look at all the Captains and Chief Engineers that were working. Bet you didn’t see no Brits or Jams on that list. Most of the highest rated seamen were CAYMANIANS, check out the official records yourself.

    Look at the names out there in Hero’s Square, all Caymanian.

    Caymanians were being taught, sadly enough, by persons from these countries that we weren’t good enough for years, which by the way,
    started in the 80’s when Cayman started to become a financial hub and these other countries started losing money. It has now caused what is happening here, which is this second guessing society.

    Stand Up Cayman, Stand Up Together, enough is enough.
    Let the bigotry that is occurring here die a painful death.

    • Anonymous says:

      The seamen were hired largely because they were cheaper than unionized labor. All seafaring nations have seamen in abundance, but some are cheaper and more willing to work in poorer conditions than others. The Caymanians of yesterday checked those boxes as Filipino seamen do today.

      As it is necessary to be Caymanian to be a Cayman National “Hero” then the point that all the names in Heroes’ Square are Caymanian is not really that significant, especially since the term “hero” seems to have been watered down to mean “pretty decent chap who did his job for a while”.

      You have been suckered into the proto-independence movement’s nationalist propaganda machine.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I hate to admit this but for once Franz is correct. When he was CIO one of the biggest problems was that many of the detainees were repeat offenders – they’d been caught before (several I met in 2007 more than once) sent back to Cuba and just got on another boat out. In blunt terms thast invalidated their claims to be asylum seekers because they were clearly under no threat back home.

    As for another comment made here about women and children on the boats – all that proves is that criminals organising this have got smart. They’ve realised that shipping out boat loads of young, fit males doesn’t make headlines any more so they’ve upped the stakes.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is an in between. If the boats are seaworthy and they just need food and water, give it to them. If the boat can be fixed, help them fix it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The Red Cross is calling us all indifferent to suffering, I hope we see the Premier calling them treasonous and the LA having 2 day debate on it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Red Cross is upset with the way refugees are being treated. I know this has nothing to do with the refugees but not sure where I can post this for there is no subject. I was appalled at the article in the newspaper about the father “abusing” his son twice between the age of 5 – 7 (I believe) hitting him over the head with a piece of lumber and then hitting him on his arm with a machete…and all the judge gave him was 18 months and (the lawyer) stating the father loves his son and wouldn’t hurt him. What do you call hitting him over the head at the tender age of 5-7 years of age or hitting him with a machete? Then to make matters worse his father chased him, that he had to some how get on a roof jumped hurt his food ran to a neighbor and that is how everything was found it. Where the hell is social services??? Again government pays these useless departments and nothing is done….rapes at the girls homes to name one…abuse of children and the court system gives them a slap on the wrist. How appalling!!!!!

  7. Colonial Jim says:

    When 27 Cubans including 9 children on a vessel were rammed by our own Police Launch.In which the article wound up in the Tampa Tribune after some of the Cubans made it to shore in Tampa. Where was the Red Cross then. Coincidentally the vessel that was then hired to take them belong to the brother of woman who’s boyfriend was a marine officer on the same police vessel.But you see in this little place when certain nationalities are incharge no investigations ever take place. Even when a refugee representative turn up here from DC she was stone walled. Where was the British Red Cross then????

  8. Fear Dunkum says:

    Maybe we should consult the Europeans and the Australians. They seem to have a good handle on dealing with humanely with boat people………

  9. Sharkey says:

    I must congratulate the Red Cross for bringing this issue up , I think that this issue should have been made to Government long time ago. I hope that everyone can see the points that the Red Cross made in being a refugee . We should put ourselves in the shoes of these refugees and see how it would feel. I think that everyone should come together with the Red Cross and get Government to correct this inhumane way of treating refugees.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The policies of CIG is disgusting and exodus is about to happen to Caymanians your country is becoming a socialist state and your people will soon have to take to the sea to escape.
    Just listen to what Arden said in the la the other day that’s the same thing said by Chavez and before that Castro
    Change is coming and it wont be for the better

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you deranged. Cayman a socialist state! Now it IS a welfare state whereby it is such a small island jobs are created to ensure employment for the local people but that is way off being a socialist state. As if!

      • Anonymous says:

        Did not Arden say that as a nation the people now had the resources to get rid of foreign ownership percentages of local companies?
        This is the BUNK that was spewed by Castro, Chavez, the kims as well as The LA of the Bahamas as least the Bahamas did not become Socialist state it just failed as an island nation.
        Soon in the name of nationalism and fear certain businesses will be taken over by the Government I would guess the fuel suppliers will be first followed by the taxis and then followed by Consolidated Water .
        The island already controls CUC, Cayman Airways, Water Authority the George Town hospital
        That said first a nation becomes a welfare state (which you already stated ) then socialism becomes the way forward then Failure it happens all over the world and cayman is moving full speed ahead
        Lets also look at the way it is in Cayman, Nationalistic pride out of control, Caymanians VS expats. Low education levels, Shrinking middle class, Corruption out of control. The same people in control of all aspects of government. NO arms for the people.
        These are just some of the signs of what is coming sooner than later.
        So stop sitting under the tree and colleting your $800 monthly check
        and plan your escape Otherwise you will be one of those on a raft

  11. Anonymous says:

    The Red Cross calls the Cubans refugees, the deputy governor call the Cubans “economic migrants”. Who is right?

  12. Sissy says:

    Drain on resources………… Even if a person doesn’t believe in the rights of people trying to make their way against all odds, it is cheaper for the Caymanian government to assist them on their way than to arrest and repatriate them.

    We should be able to help them with basic humanitarian needs of fuel, food and water. I can’t imagine circumstances that would put me and mine in a crappy craft held open with sticks to sail on the open ocean 550+ miles in the hope of reaching land. Some of these craft I’ve seen, I wouldn’t try to sail from Cayman Brac to LC in.

    This current policy of “hands off” is horrible. Where is your heart?

    • Anonymous says:

      I really could not have said this better myself. We need to help our fellow man. Its not a matter of religion or courtesy, or even law. This is basic human rights here and to look the other way while your partners in this world suffer (when you have the immediate means to assist) is beyond horrible, its heartless and cold.

      • B. N. Onneste says:

        Heartless and cold? Perhaps, but these people are making the decision of putting themselves at risk. Sorry I can’t agree with you.

    • Anonymous says:

      But what is really “help” or “humanitarian”? Is it to give them “food, fuel and water” to continue on in a “crappy craft” (that the writer correctly notes, is too high-risk to go from C/Brac to LC) and thus encourage more to put their lives and the lives of others at risk like that? And if they make it to Central America alive, they then have to run the gauntlet of violence, serious abuse and human trafficking in an attempt to get to the US. Helping them stay safely in Cuba and have [more] to live off of there, at least until, if still necessary, they can legally get into another country, would seem to be the real help that is needed. ‘Refugeeism’ is a gigantic global problem (in an overpopulated world) that must tug at all out hearts and open our purses but cannot be solved by quick emotional responses or by a tiny country.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The millions spent on ungrateful people should best be spent on the indigenous people. Help those who appreciate what’s done to help them.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians should embrace the Cubans as their own and give them and their families The chance of a better life. Other than a few generations they are the same way as the Bodden’s, Ebank’s, Foster’s et al.

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