Atleast 40 Houses Empty in Manchester; Returning Residents Seeks Safety

State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Pearnel Charles Jr says that the Government has been taking steps to curtail violence against returning residents in a number of communities across the country, including Mandeville, Manchester.

According to the Gleaner, many families have fled their homes, leaving approximately 40 houses across Manchester abandoned, with the owners opting to leave Jamaica for "safer pastures".

"We have, as a ministry, been very proactive. This is not a new issue. We have developed mechanisms to enhance engagement with our returning residents," Charles Jr said. He added: "We are very careful to ensure that people know that citizen security and the development of the security apparatus is not peculiar or special to returning residents but is for every Jamaican.

But there is a particular vulnerability that is attached to some of our returning residents because they are the kind of persons who need to be more careful coming back into a community when they transition and how they transition".

In response, the ministry developed a task force, headed by Charles Jr, which is a collaborative effort of stakeholders, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Ministry of National Security, the Jamaica Customs Agency, and repre-sentatives of the various returning residents associations.

The Returning Residents Safety and Security Handbook was created by the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in an effort to raise awareness among that community. The handbook has been in circulation since September and is also available for download on digital publishing platforms and on all JCF social media pages.

"The development of this Returning Residents Safety Handbook is vital as it gives information and a listing of persons of relevance and guidance so that we can assist our returning residents to be more careful in their interaction with persons who they do not know," said Charles Jr. He pointed out that the JCF's Stay Alert app and the handbook were necessary tools for residents' assimilation and safety.

"We have to respect the concern of every citizen of the country and ask that we put this into context and allow the security forces to do their job and that we support them in doing that job by providing the necessary information."

President of the Returning Residents Association of Mandeville Birdie Jones said that she was not daunted by the fact that crime was a present danger, noting that she refused to give up on living her life as a Jamaican in Jamaica. "I can confirm that some people have left.

The number, actually, is spread out around Manchester, but I am here to stay. I am not leaving on account of some people who wish to rob and steal and kill. I am a Jamaican, and I want to be here," she said.

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