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Lawyer requests repatriation of members of Jamaican crew

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KINGSTON, Jamaica - Lawyer Jennifer Housen, who represents some of the Marella Discovery 2 crew members, says she wrote today to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, asking the Government to urgently arrange for the repatriation of all Jamaican nationals on the ship.

"I copied that letter to the prime minister and the national security minister. I am well aware that the government, not least the OPM (Prime Minister's Office), has issued recent statements that, given these extraordinary times, governments and ministers are effectively "on call," and so I anticipate that with that state of readiness, my letter will undoubtedly be received and reviewed, given its urgency, "Housen shared in a Facebook post.

The ship was docking in the port city on the south coast of England at about 4:00 am Jamaica time today.

Calls for Jamaicans to disembark on April 2 went unanswered by the government, which closed the borders of the country to incoming passengers on March 24 in an attempt to limit COVID-19 spread locally. That closure of the borders of the country was extended for another 14 days on April 4.

"Several countries are arranging for their citizens to be repatriated from the UK (UK), with those citizens disembarking in the UK and being repatriated by their respective governments to their home country," she continued.

"While the government's intention to do some sort of 'controlled re-entry' appears to be mentioned in the Jamaican media, details of this have certainly not been communicated to my customers, not to any other Jamaican crew member as far as they know," the letter read.

"In the circumstances, Minister, I would ask you to move quickly to arrange repatriation from the United Kingdom while the vessel is still docked, given the good relationship between the governments of Jamaica and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, I would respectfully request that the details of repatriation regarding my clients be kept informed, in addition, that such repatriation information be disseminated to the captain of the vessel for transmission to the members of the Jamaican crew, since it appears that there are merely public statements of assistance, the crew members being completely unaware of this, as no, the information was divided

Housen added: "My annexed letter is specific in its request: the Government of Jamaica boasts its enviable relationship with its partners. On behalf of my clients, I ask that this enviable relationship be leveraged now to bring them home in what is an extraordinary and anxious time for our fellow citizens.