St Lucia warns illegal migration hampering COVID-19 efforts

CASTRIES, ST Lucia (CMC) — Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says that the livelihoods of anglers are being threatened due to the practice of individuals using the coastlines, mainly along the east of the island, to illegally enter St Lucia, where the borders have been closed as part of measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

“This is an issue we going to have to take up with the Minister of Agriculture very seriously. The opportunity for the fishermen to go back out and continue to fish was on the basis that they would work with us in identifying those individuals, and so this is something we are going to take extremely seriously because this will put the entire nation at risk,” Chastanet said Tuesday.

St Lucia is under a state of emergency, but a few non-essential services have been allowed to operate, including farmers and fishers, and health authorities say the illegal entry of individuals is also affecting their ability to implement measures to curb the spread of the virus.

“I am disappointed to hear that we still have persons attempting to sneak or smuggle individuals in from Martinique into St Lucia,” Chastanet said, adding that the matter will be discussed at today’s Cabinet meeting.

“I thought we had passed that point and persons would understand the irresponsibility that you are practising in doing that, not only in jeopardising your own life [but] jeopardising the life of your family, and more importantly exposing family members in Saint Lucia,” Chastanet said.

Health officials have said that a number of COVID-19 cases have emerged from the east coast village of Dennery, which has been cited by police as one of the illegal entry points.

The coastline is littered with coves and caves, and is used to transport mainly St Lucians seeking to return home after the official ports of entry have been closed.

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