By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
IN the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, prominent members of the Haitian community have formed the United Haitian Community Front to assist with relief efforts in the wake of the catastrophic storm.
UHCF was formed last week and is chaired by League of Haitian Pastors President Dr Jean Paul Charles, activist Louby Georges confirmed during a UHCF press conference held Friday.
Mr Georges added seven organizations are represented by UHCF, including Rights Bahamas.
Robertson Dieudonne, of Queen of Peace Roman Catholic Church, explained that UHCF was created to assist with the “massive work” of assisting the victims of Hurricane Dorian. The Category 5 storm made landfall on Abaco and Grand Bahama on September 1 and 2. It particularly decimated Mudd and Pigeon Peas shantytowns of Abaco.
Regarding concerns surrounding deportation, Mr Georges underscored this is not currently a “priority” area for UHCF, adding the focus is more recovery and relief.
“The only thing we would have done in that area is to advise persons that that can’t be a priority for them…compared to their health issues or getting immediate aid or helping us with recovery,” Mr Georges said. “The fear of registering…because it may bring you into the system, I think that’s minute compared to the fact that you might get aid that you deserve and need or assist in getting missing persons (removed off) the missing persons list or getting a person put on the list of persons who are not missing, but actually dead.”
UHCF was also asked about the number of persons who are missing from the Haitian community. On Thursday, the National Emergency Management Agency confirmed the number of missing people is now at 1,300.
Rights Bahamas President Stephanie St Fleur said the organization has reported the names of 309 missing people, the majority of whom are from Abaco. However, she could not confirm whether all of these individuals are of Haitian descent. Ms St Fleur also could not speak about the demographics of the death toll.
Berea Seventh-Day Adventist Church Pastor Edward St Fleur also spoke to how UCHF is assisting with mental health recovery. “Many, especially the children, they have been traumatized,” Mr St Fleur said. “We have an organization that’s ready to assist us in providing counseling, either one-to-one or group counseling so that we can help them to debrief, to get into the proper mind frame to continue their education, that’s for the children, and, of course, (to assist) the parents.”