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Dominica Aid Plan 'Needs Urgent Detail'

Bishop Delton Fernander, President of the Christian Council. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

Bishop Delton Fernander, President of the Christian Council. Photo: Terrel W. Carey/Tribune Staff

By SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporter

sdorsett@tribunemedia.net

BAHAMAS Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander said Monday he “fully supports” the Minnis’ administrations plans to accommodate students from Dominica displaced by Hurricane Maria, but said the “details of how it will be done” are “very crucial”.

In an interview with The Tribune, Bishop Fernander also said he hopes the people in Ragged Island and Acklins, whose communities were devastated by Hurricane Irma, are “afforded the same opportunities” as the Dominican students.

The Minnis administration has already said students from Ragged Island will be accommodated in schools in New Providence and Exuma since the community’s only school was destroyed.

In a press briefing following the departure of Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit from Jet Aviation on Sunday, Dr Minnis declared that whatever needs to be done will be done as quickly as possible to accommodate as many of the country’s students displaced by the storm here in The Bahamas in both the public and private school systems.

Hurricane Maria, which made landfall in Dominica on September 18 as a massive category five storm, ripped through that island nation completely destroying communications, infrastructure and critical facilities.

The announcement has been met with fierce criticism from nationalists who believe the public school system is already over-burdened while others have praised the government for the humanitarian move.

“Just from the casual knowledge of what I know about the policy, what I heard on the radio and read in the news, it is the good Christian thing to do,” Bishop Fernander said. “We want the same in return so we have to be good brothers and sisters.

“The BCC will wait to see how this will be done; the details are crucial. We support the effort and we are cognisant to mention that we hope the government provides the same level of support to those in Ragged Island who will have to have their students moved to new locations and also if that is happening in Acklins. We need to treat everyone the same.”

Bishop Fernander said he hopes the same opportunities are also offered to Haitian parents, some of whom have recently complained that their children are being blocked from Bahamian schools due to a policy created in 2014 by the Christie administration.

“The Christian Council has spoken out on this issue in the past and it seems as though we treat some persons in the diaspora different from others,” Bishop Fernander said.

“We need to be careful of the message we are sending there are no special group of people and everyone should be treated the same. Education should be available to all. It would only be fair, anything otherwise would appear we favour one over the other.”

On Sunday, Immigration Minister Brent Symonette said no child should be denied education because of their status. He implored all school administrators to “admit” students and contact his office for any needed clarification.

Mr Symonette also said no government should prohibit any student from maintaining their education due to an “apparent immigration issue.”

Last week, The Tribune reported about a Haitian mother who said she was considering placing her 11-year-old special needs son in the care of the state after he was allegedly denied access to school for three consecutive years because of the country’s immigration policy.

The 2014 policy mandates that every person living in the Bahamas has a passport of their nationality with proof to legally reside in this country, among other restrictions. In early 2015 it was widened with the requirement that every foreign person enrolled in schools, including children born in the Bahamas to immigrants, have a student permit.

Comments

sheeprunner12 2 years, 2 months ago

Political friendship between these CARICOM leaders should not transfer into social dissonance of their citizens ........ This is a prime example ........ The PM made a rash decision without engaging the public agencies (Immigration & Education) that move at a glacier's pace ....... and he disregarded the social backlash that always lurks below the surface.

This is a good learning experience for our latest One Man Band PM.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 2 months ago

Repost: Rumours are circulating that the PM of Dominica would like for the Bahamas to accommodate up to 3,000 displaced students from Dominica. We simply do not have the resources to do this! Also, a good many of these students lost in hurricanes Irma and Maria their travel ID documents that Bahamas Immigration would ordinarily require, e.g. original passport, original or certified birth certificate, etc. etc. Without such documents, we could end up letting into our school system individuals who were illegal immigrant students in Dominica. It is worth pointing out that Dominica is one of those countries that puts a very low price tag on the sale of its own citizenship to foreigners as indicated in the excerpt below from Wikipedia. We need to tread very carefully here!

"The Commonwealth of Dominica offers an official and legally mandated economic citizenship to those seeking a valid second passport. The nationality law of Dominica authorises the government to waive the normal requirement of seven years of legal residence to acquire citizenship in exchange for a cash contribution. Total costs excluding all fees for a single applicant are US$100,000, with a discount for additional passports for spouses and children. Alternatively, since 2014, applicants can make a US$200,000 real estate investment, in which case the cost of citizenship is US$50,000. According to officials, the citizenship programme was an economic and fiscal "lifeline" in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Erika, and its new investment option had become the main source of Foreign Direct Investment into Dominica by early 2016. The Dominica passport holders can travel without a visa, or obtain a visa upon entry, to over 100 countries and territories, including the United Kingdom and the Schengen zone. Applying for Dominica citizenship requires interacting with official Government Approved Economic Citizenship Agents."

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spoitier 2 years, 2 months ago

3,000 is a bit much if this rumor is true, however, I don't fault the Prime Minister for casting the country bread upon the water, because we don't know what tomorrow holds.

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TalRussell 2 years, 2 months ago

Comrade Preacherman's Delton Fernande, somebody needs shut the vault door to the public treasury.... cause Bahamaland's prime minister Minnis, started promoting how he's on a mission 'to protect the entire Caribbean from a loss of an entire generation.'
Something tells me that the PM, hasn't yet got around to discussing his Mission to save the entire Caribbean from complete destruction,' with his red shirts cabinet colleagues? I mean, has KP, even been asked by the PM to cost out his grandiose plan he done started promoting which is aimed at protecting the entire Caribbean from total destruction? { Believe me, I am not making this up }.

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by TalRussell

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