Bahamian group against closure of hurricane shelters
NASSAU, Bahamas – The human rights group, Rights Bahamas, Friday called on the authorities to delay the closure of the shelters that had been open to house thousands of people following the passage of Hurricane Dorian in September.
The category five hurricane swept through the archipelago on September 1 leaving at least 65 people dead, several thousands homeless and millions of dollars in damage.
Social Services Minister this week said that the shelters would be incrementally deactivated, adding that his ministry hopes to have them closed by the end of the year.
He said the government would provide assistance to help residents with the transition. The number of shelter residents on New Providence, for example, decreased to about 600, according to a recent update from the Department of Social Services.
But in a statement, Rights Bahamas said that it viewed Campbell as a ‘very compassionate and caring individual,” and that while it understands clearly his desire that individuals who are still housed in shelters need to get back to their homes, the conditions for many have not improved.
“Most of the severely damaged homes are still infested with mould, vermin and other disease carrying agents. Therefore, we cannot in good conscience send them back to such. As Far as Grand Bahama is concerned, the situation is still untenable.
“Even those who are aware of mould information sessions, do not have access to the necessary means financially to afford such kits. This was enunciated very forcefully in an NGO meeting, comprising many just last week. The greatest fear is for children who venture into these dwellings to sleep at night. This will bode severely health wise in the future. Entering some of these homes, one is stifled by the foul odour and life devouring elements one has to breathe in.”
The human rights group said that firm recommendations are that every single home flooded to a certain degree should be inspected thoroughly before occupants should be allowed to enter. It said some are even sleeping on dried out mattresses thinking all is fine, while the mould inside of them is on very fast journey of total internal infestation.
“Remember too that the churches who have accumulated riches from the tithing of the poor should have it in their hearts now to do the Lord’s work by caring even more his people.
“The number of foreign aid organisations who have worked tirelessly to feed, clothe and water our people, in spite of the many challenges, need to be encouraged to stay as long as is possible. This will only be possible if a much greater appreciation be shown them locally and nationally,” the human rights group said, urging the minister is allowed to make “necessary preparations so that when our sisters and brothers can no longer enjoy the safety and shelter provided since Dorian, their dignity is foremost in the arrangements to be made in accommodating them”. (CMC)