Chaku Alleges government aided Syrians

Speaking on the opposition-aligned Crusader Radio, on Thursday, Symister charged that government is aware of just who is involved in the trafficking ring and has been collecting US $2,000 and more from individuals here to process the visa waivers for immigrants to enter Antigua & Barbuda.

“The persons in Antigua are known because the persons approached the authorities to get the visa waiver. So this organised group is involved in human trafficking with the complicity of the government of Antigua & Barbuda,” Symister declared.

“It is so a big that the American Homeland Security identified Antigua as a trans-shipment point for human trafficking.”

According to Symister, who is an attorney, the traffickers are capitalising on a situation and taking advantage of Syrians who are desperate to get out of their country due to the ongoing war.

“This is an organised human trafficking ring by persons (who) recognise there is a terrible situation in Syria … The intent is not for them to stay in Antigua & Barbuda; the intent is to pass through Antigua & Barbuda to get eventually to where they want to, which is the Americas, the US,” Symister said.

Last week, government confirmed that 12 Syrians left Antigua and ended up in the United States Virgin Islands where they are seeking asylum/refugee status.

Then, yesterday, Government’s Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst told OBSERVER AM that, in May, the US Embassy disclosed to the Antigua & Barbuda government that two smuggling rings existed here with the intention of placing Cubans and Syrians on US soil.

His statement came a few days after the Chairman of the US Committee on Homeland Security, Michael McCaul, said that Washington was investigating the said matter.

Hurst said since the development, the Gaston Browne administration has put a hold on visa waivers for applicants and will only allow legitimate businessmen/women and diplomats to enter the country.

He said the action is to ensure that the country could not and would not serve as a transit point for illegal entry into America or any neighbouring states.

But Symister said this is obviously not the case.


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