Georgetown – The Guyana government on Monday reiterated an earlier position that it would offer “every type of assistance possible and necessary” to support the victims and families of the tragic fire at the dormitory of a secondary school here that resulted in the deaths of 19 children in May.
A statement from the Office of the Attorney General noted that thus far, medical treatment has been offered both locally and overseas, and that the government has met the financial obligations for transportation to and from the capital, as well as all funeral and related expenses.
It said psychosocial assistance, including counselling, has also been provided.
A secondary school girl, who allegedly caused the death of 19 of her schoolmates when she set the dormitory of the Mahdia Secondary School has since been charged with murder.
Guyanese law prohibits the naming of juvenile accused persons or convicts. But it allows for her to be charged with murder since she is older than 14 years.
In the statement, the Office of the Attorney General said the Irfaan Ali government pledges to continue to offer support and assistance in various ways to enable the families to continue to cope with, and recover from, this horrendous tragedy.
“In this regard, many family members requested cash which they could use to make purchases that would enhance their ability to continue to provide for their families. In response to these requests, Government offered each family financial assistance, and the families were requested to sign an agreement having received independent legal advice. “
The statement said that the process of providing this financial assistance is ongoing and that in the agreement itself, government pledged to continue to offer such support as may be necessary to the victims and their families.
“Given that public monies are being expended, and recognising that these expenditures will have to be transparently accounted for, the agreements were reduced into writing. Thus far, all the affected families engaged have signed agreements,” the statement said, adding that “a full report of all monies expended in respect of this tragedy will be made public in due course, as the process is a continuing one”
The statement said that the Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the circumstances surrounding the deadly blaze, will be established, and that “it will, if it considers necessary, review all the facts and circumstances relating to the event, in accordance with its Terms of Reference.
“The Government’s pledge to continue to offer assistance to the victims and their families in no way affects the mandate of this intended COI, as is, unfortunately, being peddled in some quarters.
“The Government hopes that the wishes and welfare of the victims of this tragedy are neither exploited nor politicised, and expects that this issue will be accorded the solemnity and dignity which it rightly deserves,” the statement added. (CMC)