Johnson Smith… the clearance of the shipment by the authorities in Cuba is outside of the control of the Foreign Ministry.

The promised COVID care packages for Jamaican medical students in Cuba are yet to be delivered, Foreign Affairs Minister Kamina Johnson Smith has confirmed. 

Following complaints that some students had returned to Jamaica without receiving the promised care packages, The Gleaner on Monday sought a response from the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Jamaican Embassy in Havana.

Johnson Smith this morning said despite strenuous efforts to have the packages delivered, this was not achieved.

More than 30 students have been affected.

The shipment departed Jamaica on October 28 and arrived in Cuba on Tuesday, November 2.

Johnson Smith said the clearance of the shipment by the authorities in Cuba is outside of the control of the Foreign Ministry.

According to the minister, on Monday, parents and students were advised of the next steps for the clearing of the shipment once there is no sanitary or phytosanitary concern by Cuban Customs.

Jamaica’s Ambassador to Cuba Kathryn Phipps declined to comment on the matter, noting that the ministry was better equipped to do so.

Johnson Smith first announced in July that plans were under way by the Government to protect the welfare of the students who were experiencing challenges.

In September, she announced that 100 care packages and 152 personal care items, collected for the students were to be shipped.

In November the minister acknowledged the delay and expressed regret for the inconveniences.

“We… will continue to work with our students in Cuba and our stakeholders to ensure that this process is completed in order to alleviate some of the challenges faced by the students as a result of the pandemic,” said Johnson Smith said at the time.

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