Bahamians launch petition to open borders to return home

Bahamians launch petition to open borders to return home
Lynden Pindling Airport

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamians unable to return home amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic have launched a petition, calling on Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis to open the country’s borders for Bahamians.

The petition launched by Renea Pennerman over the weekend, had nearly 300 signatures yesterday.

Among those to support the move is Kim Nesbitt from Freeport, Grand Bahama, who said her 14-year-old daughter is stuck in the United States.

“The morning after the prime minister announced the closing of the boarder, she was at the airport and her flight was cancelled,” Nesbitt wrote, in her support for the petition.

“She is a minor and has no family in the US. We didn’t even have 24-hours notice.”

At the end of last month, the government announced a nationwide shutdown, closing the country to all incoming passengers amidst the global spread of the virus.

Flights however have still been able to come into the country empty to pick up passengers and leave.

“Bahamian citizens, including the vulnerable and students in countries all over the world have been barred from coming home even when humanitarian flights were coming from other countries to The Bahamas to collect their citizens,” the petition read.

“This is an international disgrace and we want Bahamians and people all over the world to help us to tell our prime minister that he is wrong. Bahamians want to come home…We want to come home and we want our government to help us.”

The cause urged the government to act in the best interest of its citizens.

“The Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, you have no right to deny Bahamians entry to The Bahamas,” the petition went on to note.

“This is not your country. This is our country, our home. Open the borders for Bahamians.”

Last week, some 45 British national tourists, short-term residents and their direct dependents were picked up from Nassau and flown home, along with 150 others from the Cayman Islands.

The stopover humanitarian flight was operated by British Airways and organized by the British High Commission along with Bahamian authorities, the Cayman government and other UK government officials.

Officials said none of the passengers on the flight were allowed to disembark in Nassau.

A German flight operated by Condor airways from Nassau to Frankfurt was also able to repatriate some of its citizens following the border closures.

The Bahamas has recorded 49 cases of the virus to date with just over 700 people in quarantine in government facilities or at home.

The number of cases around the world continue to rise daily, with global cases reaching 1.98 million, the majority of which has been confirmed in the United States (over 600,00 cases) – the newest epicenter of the virus.

Bahamians abroad and relatives of Bahamians aboard are pleading with the government to assist them with their safe return home.

Monique Hanna said her son is in college in Canada and she simply wants him home.

“I don’t know how long this epidemic will linger, school may not reopen in August,” Hanna wrote,

Debra Lambert from Freeport, Grand Bahama, noted her son and three others were still stuck in Jamaica.

Ana Maria Lord said her son lives in the United States and has not been able to return home, despite his continuous efforts.

Donna Hanna said she only planned to go to Miami for a short-time and is eager to return home.

“I came to be with my daughter while she is here to have her baby and I end up being one of those persons that got stuck and I would like to return home please thank you,” she said.

Miguel Baillou said, “I need to get home to my family”.

In Jacksonville, Florida, Rashanda Riley wrote, “I just needs to get home”.

From Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Stephanique Parotti said, “I signed because I want to get home to my kids and family.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has advised all Bahamian nationals living abroad who may have been in distress or seeking to return home to make direct contact with their respective Embassy, High Commission or Honorary Consulate in The Bahamas.
Last month, the government chartered a plane to Jamaica for 61 Bahamian students studying in the region.
Additionally, after major pushback, some 14 students stuck in Barbados were eventually able to board a Bahamasair flight on March 27, from St. Lucia, which went to drop-off Cuban medical professionals to assist in the delivery of healthcare in that country.

Since the closure of the borders, the government has repeatedly indicated that it does not plan to send emergency flights to pick up Bahamians stranded abroad.

When Chinese officials locked down the city of Wuhan on January 23, where the virus was first detected, The Bahamas government also did not opt to bring over 100 Bahamians who were there, back to country.

Those who did return, did so on their own volition and were quarantined for 14-days.

25 comments

I think it is very despicable for our PM of the Bahamas to ignore the cry of the Bahamian people stuck abroad. It is humiliating that he is not concerned whether his silence is disgusting or not. Please address the people’s matters Mr. PM. Put your foot in their shoe for a minute and see if you can stand. With all this bull carp going on consider what they might be experiencing in those foreign countries. Covid 19 is already here Sir! Why deny the citizens from their own country? This is stupid!!!! We have a system in place for those found with the illness don’t we? You are just over reacting foolishly not thinking about the affects your decisions would have on people. You are causing a panic that is not necessary at all. Shutting down places and the boarders in an untimely manner. At least give us an advance notice. We have to prepare ourselves for these random calls whenever you feel a need to strike! Please kindly slow down and think things throughly before making yourself look incompetent to the world. I urge that you Mr. PM sit back relax and listen to the voices of the Bahamian people. No man is an island. Many super heroes had lost their capes. Don’t get caught up in your ego. As we all know. Power in the hands of a fool is a very dangerous thing. We do not want the world to see you in this way. Please kindly open up the boarders and quarantine my brothers and sister that’s crying to come home!

This situation in The Bahamas USA and Canada happened so fast. Parents were not given the time to think straight about the way forward. Most thought that if the schools were doing the online classes the kids were safe in their dorms and apartments. But now here it is that 40 percent of our workforce has lost their jobs yet they may have students abroad. Those students are the next generation for this country Mr PM. The next set of voters. Yet they are left stranded thru no fault of their own. I am able to pay for my son to come home. Many person are not. School closes at the end of April for Canadian students. Send a flight to Toronto to pick them up. Quarantine them for 14 days. If you want to know why my son did not come home right away was because the president of his school in an email said they would still do their exams so he did not recommend they leave. None of us has been here before. There are parents worrying fretting can’t send a dime. How was it when you were abroad doing your schooling? Remember

Before bringing them home please check for the virus first we have to much infected 😷 people now.

When we were informed of our first confirmed case on March 15th, why arrangements were not made for the 14 year old to come home, especially if she has no family there? Most schools in America were closed before March 14th and our borders did not close until the end of March. We need to stop waiting last minute. To be honest though, those abroad are probably safer than being home as they have more resources for this pandemic than we currently do.

This situation is sensitive and critical. I was in the beauty salon when this all started and we had about 6 cases so far…a parent of a student from Canadian dropped her child off after she just picked him up from the airport, she said”I couldn’t take the chance I had to pull him out” another parent was in the salon whom also has a child in Canada schooling curiously I asked “are you bringing your child home?, she said “she will be in her dome and safer there”. I said all that to say this…sometimes we have to make hard choices for our families…think about the person that’s making choices for the well being of our country…I pray Prime Minister that you are guided by God and your choice is of him in Jesus name. I can’t imagine my child being stranded and I can’t imagine being the person to make the decision that could possibly put our country in more jeopardy.

My wife and I are stuck.
We came over on the 13 th of March
We came here for a week to shop for our business from Bimini. The Baleria ferry canceeled our sailing home on the 21st and reshedule us for 27th, the borders close before this. It is now the 15th of April, over a month. We are staying in an Airbnb. This is over a month now. This is very costly. I am booking a week at a time uncertain when we will go home. We talk to the concillor who dont have a clue when we are going home.
Why dont they just test us and let us go home.
We have a place that we can quaratine ourselves.
If the prime minister were in our position what would he want the Bahamas goverment to do.
We are stuck and want to go home to our family.

Not sure what State the 14 yr is in but Georgia where my 15 yr old was closed all schools 13 March and the school sent and email the next day 14 March advising all international students to leave even though the dorms would remain open because they had plan to reopen 14 April. For me this was all I needed to hear and with me following the news I booked a ticket and went for my child on 15 to return 16 March. My position was that if they close the boarder by any chance I will be with my child! I’m so happy I did because look how all of this is unfolding. My advice to parents when crisis is at your door you make the best decision for your family. All other issues can be worked out later. I pray the child is safe and soon to be reunited with her family.

He doesn’t have the luxury of just thinking about himself. Whiles I do sympathize with your situation, I think it’s we both know that he can’t personalize his response to every situation.

Yes I need to get home also to my kids in the name off Jesus I don’t mine being in quarantine for 14 days please

When we open our boarders. Do you then get Canada and The US to open all of theirs. THERE are no flights leaving any of these places. People please think I understand how you feel but there are hundreds of kids out there in college. He must be a freshman and the school has not put the kids off campus. Food and everything is till being supplied. Imagine the cost ot the country to bring thousands of kids home right now becaues as soon as we send for 1 set the rest will want us send for them. A flight was sent to Jamaica to release the students and some came and some waited Now they stuck. The ones from Barbados asking now. Then canada then the US. Whcih part of the US cause we students ALL over the US. Do we send a flight to each airport.??? Do we pay these people to bring staff in to check bags and run security and sell tickets and put bags on planes and all that is required for a full flight. OR we just want the child home by whatever means necessary

Bringing bahamains home and quarantining them for 14 days will allow bahamains to get home and allow the government to control the virus if anyone is infected.

Agreed Saturday will make it a month since we’ve been up here. I’m blessed by God though that both of my sisters live up here and I have a place to stay.

God bless everyone.

Not sure what you mean but I think people are more stressed that he hasn’t even said anything about the borders (It’s like he’s ignoring us). If it won’t be open for a while he should say or even if he doesn’t he should at least say something like (To our Bahamian brothers and sisters stuck try to be safe) or something like that.

God bless you.

Actually Canada and US have open their borders to their own citizens. (Most are not asking for it for people who are not citizens of the Bahamas.)

God bless you.

I am hoping and praying for u guys return..i can only imagine what u may be going through and not in your own country..Mr PM can u please bring your Citizens home. Thanks p.s

I’m also here on a family island trying to return home, and I’m actually loosing my mind here. I just want to return to my child.

Smh I’m also stuck in the u.s I went to see my pregnant girlfriend. people got a lot to say because they are home comfy, who feels it knows it why can’t I come back home to the country where I born and grow!!!

My mom came to visit me in Orlando and is now stuck in the US with no way of returning home. She is running out of her medication and does not have any insurance here. I feel your pain and I think the Prime Minister should adress the issue during his briefings. I listened last night and he did not even mention a word about Bahamians stuck abroad. It’s a real issue that needs to be addressed. We feel left out and fogotten. I have contacted the Embassy and got no answers. Mr. Prime Minister we are all waiting to hear from you.

I am baffled and puzzled while sympathizing. I pray all remain safe and healthy wherever you may be. When the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11 2020 it meant serious business. It means and meant global crisis. At a moment’s notice travel bans could have been implemented and some in countries they were. However, it was not until nearly at month’s end when the PM closed us. Many feel if we closed earlier our numbers would have been minimal like in some other smaller countries. While all individuals had to think about their personal matters( shopping, party, school etc.)the PM had to think and is still thinking of the entire population which has 2.5 hospitals and the little clinics no joke!!!! We cannot bombard a health system as fragile as ours. Oh and point people are dying from this here at home they may not be your somebody, but they are someone’s somebody. You have to be below a D average to not understand his position or just selfish. He can’t be selfish. From the beginning of time no one has decided to let the majority suffer for a minority. People are supposed to be quarantining now and are not doing so, people where asked to limit non essential travel but did not do so. Petition, but ask for mercy because in some cases many made informed decisions to be where they are, the consequences of the decision is not the PMs fault. I am sure being the humane human that he seems to be when the all clear is given by the health professionals he will do what he can to get all home safely. Until then hang in there and stay safe.

I agree that they should come home but it should be done the right way, rent a portion of one of those closed hotels, have it manned by unemployed, vetted, voluntary hotel workers who will feed and house returning residents for the quarantined period, the workers will be paid a small stipend but still qualify for unemployment. This is an expensive venture but it could be done.

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