NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis yesterday called on the government to reveal its plan for Hurricane Dorian evacuees, who could be put in “crisis” if state-run shelters are closed for Christmas.
He weighed in on the government’s suggestion it wanted Hurricane Dorian shelters in New Providence closed before the end of the year, during an interview with Eyewitness News Online in the foyer of the House of Assembly.
“If they are saying they are going to close the shelters by December, then the question is where are these persons expected to be housed,” he said.
“…For example, by now they ought to have had some other temporary accommodations for these persons. They should have… brought in some trailers cities for them to be in until some other things happen, but you just can’t take them out of the shelter.
“What preparation has been made from them to now to accommodate these people? It is one thing to say they are going out of the shelter, but it is another to say what preparation has been made. So, we need to know.”
When asked yesterday about the shelter closure deadline of the end of the year outside the House, Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell said: “That is my hope.”
The government plans to construct temporary housing, beginning in Abaco, for displaced residents.
The first phase of the $6.4 million development, called the Family Relief Centre, was expected to be completed before the end of December; however, Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction Iram Lewis said last Friday the project will be completed within the first quarter of the new year.
The 250 domes, which the government expects to be in place for three years, is hoped to facilitated residents returning to the island to rebuild.
Davis, who visited Abaco Tuesday, said he does not see evidence of the Family Relief Centre.
Asked if the government should provide financial assistance to shelter-dependent residents when they close, Davis said: “Something has to happen otherwise you could be creating a potentially another crisis with displaced people. They may on the streets, homeless with nowhere to turn, so what do you think they are going to resort to.”
According to the latest National Emergency Management Agency report, there were just over
700 storm victims living in shelters on two sites in New Providence: the Kendal G. L. Isaacs
A number of shelters at the gymnasium have told Eyewitness News Online they were making their own plans to leave, while others said they will wait and see what happens as their choices were limited.
The government does not plan to allow migrants with irregular status into the Family Relief Centre.
Asked how the government should address this category of people living in shelters, Davis did not expound.
The government has said it will repatriate anyone who does not have a right to be in the country.
A recent risk assessment report, released by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, stated the number of undocumented Haitians in government shelters is “low”.