By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
HAITIAN Chargé d’Affaires Dorval Darlier wants the Bahamas government to grant temporary asylum to undocumented migrants affected by Hurricane Dorian.
This, he asserted yesterday, was the best way to assist devastated Haitians living in Grand Bahama and Abaco to rebuild their lives after losing everything to Dorian’s destruction.
His comments came days after North Eleuthera MP Hank Johnson was caught on video by a Florida reporter arguing about the picture being painted of how the Bahamas government is treating Haitian evacuees. Mr Johnson insisted migrant storm victims are being treated fairly and accused a group of Haitians evacuees of complaining.
Meanwhile, Mr Darlier appealed to the government yesterday to enforce a mandatory evacuation in Abaco, telling The Tribune some storm victims were refusing to leave despite mounting health concerns.
However, the chargé said he had no idea just how many people from various Abaco shanty towns were still alive or dead in the aftermath of the storm as the government had not yet communicated its findings regarding those communities.
But what he was certain of yesterday was the larger communities - the Mudd and Pigeon Peas - were completely wiped out, leaving many missing and families desperate to find loved ones.
“I’ve been to the Mudd and Pigeon Peas, that does not exist anymore. There is no Mudd, there is no Pigeon Peas,” Mr Darlier said.
“I go around down there. The reason I went is because they say Haitians shooting at people. It’s not true. I go around but I don’t see no one.
“It’s like a ghost town. My major concern is how are all those people going to be relocated? Some who have insurance, it’s easy for them to get back, but those who don’t, what is going to happen to them? What is the plan for them?
“I think both governments have to sit together to see what plan they can do just for them, especially for those who have nowhere to go.
“I cannot tell the government how to do their job. The Bahamas is a country no one can tell them how to run their country, but what I can suggest for those who are illegal, I think a moratorium is better for them right now especially for those who has been affected by the hurricane.
“In fact, I am not telling them not to arrest those who are illegal in Nassau or wherever else. This is the right of the government. But those who have been victims the government need to do something for them right now or give them some years or whatever else until they regularise themselves.”
Asked if he was referring to a temporary asylum, he said: “Yes, especially for those registered at NEMA as the victims. This will give them time to rebuild their lives.”
He also made another appeal: “I suggest all the Haitians around the world come and invest in housing in the Bahamas to help them get back on their feet. This is what I promote right now for all the Haitians with money. (They) can invest in the Bahamas especially for those in Abaco and Freeport.”
This comes as some Haitians have told the South Florida paper the Sun Sentinel they don’t feel safe or welcome in Nassau after being evacuated to the capital.
It has illuminated a long-standing rift between the Haitian community and some Bahamians.
Jocelyn Arty, of the United Haitian Association told the paper it seemed as though the displaced Haitians from Abaco were coming in under the “radar”.
“I don’t feel good. I don’t feel comfortable,” Quetelie Decius told the Sun Sentinel after disembarking a mailboat over the weekend at Potter’s Cay Dock.
Their comments triggered a tongue lashing from Mr Johnson who was at the site. He was captured on video by the Sun Sentinel.
“I represent the government,” he said. “There, what you doing, is not the truth. You should have gone to the shelter and you should have stayed there, don’t come back out here and paint these pictures because what y’all are saying is not the truth.
“We give y’all everything possible, we went above and beyond to take care of y’all and you’re here complaining. What y’all want? Y’all want live in Baha Mar? Don’t do that. That’s wrong.”
He added: “There is no division here. It’s not division. Everyone is being treated accordingly. Some Bahamians are financially better off than others are able to provide for themselves. They’re doing that. Some of these people are not able to provide for themselves so we are rendering the assistance.”
Mr Darlier was also there and was reported as saying even though there were some irregularities, he wanted things to go smoothly.