More than 40 families from Trinidad and Tobago are believed to be stranded in war-torn Syria and efforts to return them to home soil continue vigorously by a team led by Felicia Perkins-Ferreira.
Perkins-Ferreira, who in January made the 20,000 kilometres trip to the Middle East to rescue her two sons, told Guardian Media yesterday their efforts have been progressing at a moderate pace.
Following a Guardian Media interview last Thursday, she said families have been contacting her and she now believes there may be up to sixty families of women and children trapped in Syria. This information Perkins-Ferreira said has been passed on to the Ministry of National Security. Officials, she indicated, have already begun gathering information about the affected families.
A recent international article revealed that approximately 25 Trinidadian women and children are trapped in Kurdish-run camps and are being forced to endure unhealthy conditions. One of the photographs shows a child sleeping on the floor and his face covered in a swarm of flies.
A five-day peace treaty was agreed by Turkey to pause its offensive against the Kurdish fighters at the behest of the United States, providing a window of hope for many. However, it came to an end on Tuesday causing immense anxiety among the families of those in need of rescue.
There are reports that one Trinidadian woman is now fighting for her life after being injured in a missile attack on a Syrian mosque, but Perkins-Ferreira said she has not been able to confirm this.
According to her “it is starting to get bad there and people are trying to go to safer places right now to hide so I am continuing to push for us to get the ok to be able to go across and get them”.
In the meantime, Perkins-Ferreira said prayers continue for the families’ safe return.
She noted approximately $100,000 is needed to fulfil these efforts. Currently, she stated several fund-raising events are being organized “but there are families who are willing to pay beyond to add to the cause”.
Last week, Yacina Alimayu, whose sister, Amadi Alimayu, 32, and her three children are being held at al-Hawl, told Guardian Media she was disappointed in the sluggish response from local authorities given their haste to assist Venezuelans. She also denied any threat to national security in having these families re-integrated into society. In fact, Perkins-Ferriera said her two sons have been able to live “normal lives” since their return, investing most of their time in sporting activities.
Guardian Media contacted National Security Minister Stuart Young for an update on the emergency passports which would allow family members stuck at the camps to return. However, Minister Young told us he has been in an almost 4-hour long meeting. We are yet to receive an update.