Attorney Nafeesa Mohammed is pleading with the Government to repatriate some 87 Muslim TT nationals who are being held in a refugee camp in Syria.
A deeply-concerned Mohammed told Sunday Newsday the issue is tantamount to a humanitarian crisis.
“It is a significant issue that is affecting 66 of our children and 21 women, who have been in a refugee camp in Syria since March 2019,” she said. “These women and children are displaced persons. They are victims. They are suffering and begging to come back home.”
She added most of the women’s husbands were killed in war.
Mohammed, who resigned from the PNM during the campaign for the August 10 general election, said many of the Muslims had gone to Syria “because of this so-called Islamic State (ISIS) concept, where they had this desire to… live in a Muslim state.
“But that has collapsed. It has crashed. There is no ISIS any more and none of us support any terrorist activities.”
Mohammed said the relatives of the refugees had asked her to help.
“The relatives have been writing letters since last March. They wrote everybody: ministers, the Prime Minister, President.”
She said President Paula-Mae Weekes referred the matter to the Ministry of National Security. Mohammed said she was told the ministry is investigating but no decision has been made.
“These are citizens of the country and they are asking to be repatriated. And the only way to get them out of the camp is if the Government intervenes.”
Mohammed said the US general in the Middle East, Kenneth Mc Kenzie, is pleading with countries to take back their citizens.
“And they have said that they will help to have them repatriated.”
Mohammed stressed the refugees are not terrorists.
“I know there are fears and concerns that they are terrorists. They are not terrorists. They are not criminals.”
She added the families of the refugees are willing to work with the authorities to ensure there is some kind of intervention.
“There has to be support systems in place to make it easy for them, because these people have been traumatised over the time.”
A former PNM deputy political leader, Mohammed said her decision to resign from the party was prompted by the Government’s treatment of Muslims.
She said Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi and National Security Minister Stuart Young are “inexperienced men in positions with plenty power but they don’t understand the dynamics in the society at all.”
But Mohammed said the election is over and it is now time for healing.
“Plenty families are hurting. There are elements in the Muslim community who are being stigmatised and they are crying out for some help.”