Guyanese students in Cuba get $4M in relief packages

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Guyanese students studying in Cuba received relief packages from the Guyana Government to assist them as they continue to be on lock down due to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

The Department of Public Service in a statement noted that the students expressed sincere gratitude for the packages which include food items, vitamins along with face masks and gloves.

“The decision to render us aid was expressed by the Minister and executed. I acknowledge your commitment and conviction to ensure our welfare. This assistance comes at a most crucial time when COVID 19 has created many challenges,” one student wrote.

Another student was recorded saying, “By this I personally make my gratitude to the Hon. Minister of Public Service, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Public Service, Ministry of the Presidency, Ambassador of the Republic of Guyana to Cuba, the Students’ Affairs Officer and all embassy staff that have worked to ensure that the hampers sent from Guyana to Cuba was processed and subsequently distribution has commenced.”

The statement also noted that the Government recently chartered a Caribbean Airlines flight, costing US$48,000 (more than GY$10M) to take the relief and personal care supplies, valued in excess of $4M, to the students.

According to the Department of Public Service, 88 packages were sent to Cuba and distributed to students on government scholarship, those self-financed, the Department’s Student Affairs Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff, four athletes and the wife of the late Komal Chand, Mrs Rukhim Chand.

The Department of Public Service had come under strong criticisms and condemnation for downplaying the plight of the students in Cuba, reportedly refusing to explore the option of evacuating them.

The students had told the News Room that several requests were made to the Guyana Embassy in Cuba and the Government through the DPS amidst increasing health and safety threats posed by COVID-19.

Further, in a letter dispatched to the News Room by a few of the students, it was pointed out that 83% of the Guyanese students want to return home immediately – contrary to reports by the DPS that 80% of them wish to remain.

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