World Cup: Caribbeans discuss border security

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Kingston:In a bid to prevent any travel hassles for players and officials during next year's World Cup, security ministers from the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) met here to discuss border security arrangements in the nine host countries.

The community, which seeks to integrate the Carribean economies, has all the nine host countries as its members along with the other nations of the islands.

''We dealt with border security arrangements between the countries which extends not only to immigration but also customs,'' CARICOM chairperson Mia Mottley, who is also the deputy Prime Minister of Barbados, said in an interview to Carribean Media Communications (CMC).

''It also relates to not just the movement of ordinary citizens or visitors but the movement of the teams, the movement of the officials that are necessary. Clearly if the teams have to move from one country to the next to play in a short period of time, you don't want them being the victims of serious delays or serious problems at the border but at the same time you can't compromise your national security,'' she added.

The CARICOM chairperson said the two-day meeting, however, has still not sorted out the issue completely, which would require a detailed plan as the mega-event was spread across nine countries and disaster-management in case of an emergency would be a major problem if the plan does not work out.

''There is a very delicate balance which has to be met. There are a whole range of issues and platforms which we have to address in terms of co-operation, maritime co-operation, land forces co-operation, air support, not only from the point of view of air surveillance of movement of people but in the event of an emergency,'' she said.

''In the event of a mass casualty, you have to look at the capacity of countries in terms of their health arrangements, hospital arrangements, therefore you have to have contingency plans in place,'' Ms Mottley pointed out.

She also revealed that the community has been meeting regularly since the beginning of the year to sort out the security issues.

''Virtually almost every week since January, different sub committees have been meeting, planning out different parts.'' ''We haven't been speaking a lot about it publicly because we believe that we have to get arrangements in place first and there are a number of decisions that will have to go up to Heads (of Government),'' she said.

Elaborating on the international assistance that the Carribeans are getting to host the World Cup successfully, Ms Mottley said the help was indispensable and has given good results in training people and putting the security plans in place.

''No country in the world can put on any form of global games without a level of international assistance. So we have been working assiduously to put these procedures in place,'' she said.

''Because of the extraordinary nature of the event, because of the fact that you are dealing with teams from all over, because we expect at least about 40,000 visitors coming into the region, our normal policing procedure will not be sufficient to maintain the requisite standards,'' she added, explaining the importance of international assistance in keeping vigil at the venues.

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