SOCIAL Services Minister Frankie Campbell.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
OFFICIALS are still cross-referencing lists of missing persons as a result of Hurricane Dorian and a decision on when such a full list will be made public will be made by police, according to Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell.
Yesterday, Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands also weighed in on the matter saying the process is slow because it has to be done correctly.
“This is disappointingly slow but I think it’s very important to get it right,” Dr Sands said outside Cabinet yesterday.
“We don’t want to have a repeat of one number here another number here and so on and so forth,” he added, referring to the difference between figures given recently by Mr Campbell and Minister of National Security Marvin Dames. “So however long it takes to get it right that’s how long it’ll take.”
On October 9, Mr Campbell told Parliament 1,208 were missing according to the Ministry of Social Services’ records. He said the department would release a list of the missing people in local dailies. However, that process was halted by Mr Dames, who has said police have responsibility for dealing with missing people.
Mr Dames has since said the number of people reported missing is now 282.
On September 11, NEMA said 2,500 were reported missing following the storm. That dropped to 1,300 on September 12. During his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said the number of people still missing was about 600. Earlier this month, NEMA said 424 people are still missing before Mr Dames gave an updated number.
Yesterday Dr Sands also said he is not comfortable enough yet with the information his ministry has accumulated on autopsies for Hurricane Dorian victims to release the information to the public.
To date, the official death count from the storm is 67.
“I would have given an undertaking that we were going to reveal the information as it relates to autopsy identifications and so on and so forth; even as of this morning I am not satisfied that the information that I’ve gotten from my ministry is adequate to be publicly released,” he said.
As for families seeking closure, he said: “We would like to be able to help them get closure but you can only get closure using the methods that are scientifically available and using international best practices. So if you talk about DNA, we are now investigating means of getting DNA data sooner than is conventionally available and when you are talking about DNA analysis of bone or DNA analysis of soft tissue, the accuracy of that requires that that study be done by a reputable lab in a reputable environment and those results cross checked and validated. It’s not something that you just snap your finger and its done. We want closure as much as everyone else does and we are working very very hard to see to it that people get that closure.”