Trinidad and Tobago is one of the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean, primarily due to significant oil and natural gas resources, high levels of direct foreign investment and an expanding tourist industry. The “pull” factor is therefore strong; available datTrinidad and Tobago is one of the most prosperous countries in the Caribbean, primarily due to significant oil and natural gas resources, high levels of direct foreign investment and an expanding tourist industry. The “pull” factor is therefore strong; available data suggest that one-third of intra-Caribbean migrants reside in Trinidad and Tobago.
Trinidad and Tobago faces considerable security challenges and is an active transit point for regional and extra-regional irregular migration to North America and Europe. People smugglers are active, taking advantage of porous borders. Governments in the region, including Trinidad and Tobago, remain particularly concerned about the vulnerability of their borders to transnational organized crime networks and the attendant risk of those perceived vulnerabilities being exploited by terrorists. These same governments have noted a critical need to upgrade or restructure current migration management and border security systems by acquiring the necessary technological tools and strengthening migration officials’ professional capacity to better identify potential security risks. Achieving a balance between expeditious processing of bona fide travelers and effective deterrence of security threats is a key aim for all governments concerned. This is true also for Trinidad and Tobago in achieving its declared aim of becoming a developed society by the year 2020.
Emigration of skilled workers has been a problem for Trinidad and Tobago. Although the government supports emigration of unskilled workers, it had not developed a policy to entice educated and trained personnel to remain on the island. In recent years there has been a massive exodus of nurses from the government health services to international destinations, particularly in the US which is of particular concern of the government. To fill the gaps, the Government has recruited health workers, including doctors, from Cuba, Nigeria and the Philippines. Construction workers employed in turnkey projects have been recruited from China and India.
IOM Port of Spain Office
IOM has maintained an effective office in Trinidad and Tobago since 2006. Following a migration assessment in 2005 and at the request of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, IOM’s project for Strengthening Technical Capacity in Trinidad and Tobago (STC in T&T) worked to bolster the capabilities of the Immigration Division and other law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The US State Department-funded project, which began in 2006 and ended in late 2008, focused on irregular transit migration by third-country nationals, as well as significantly contributed to national and bilateral efforts to enhance regional security.
IOM Port-of-Spain has provided informal contributions to policy discussions in the IOM-International Labour Organization (ILO) Study on the Migration of Health Workers, and has participated in the Consultation on ILO’s Action Programme on the International Migration of Health Care Workers: the Supply Side in February 2007.
Migration and Development
IOM has similarly participated in the development and discussions regarding a project of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and IOM on sharing migration data in Caribbean English-speaking countries. A project is now underway to assess the situation on migration data-sharing in the Caribbean in four pilot countries, of which Trinidad and Tobago is one.