Homes in ruins one week after Hurricane Dorian hit The Mudd community in Abaco. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
A NEWLY formed Haitian advocacy group said it has forwarded the names of more than 300 people listed as missing from shanty towns in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
The group, United Haitian Community Front, is chaired by League of Haitian Pastors President Dr Jean Paul Charles. Seven organisations 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 helping the victims of Hurricane Dorian. The Category 5 storm made landfall on Abaco and Grand Bahama on September 1 and 2. It decimated the Mudd and Pigeon Peas shantytowns of Abaco.
At a press conference on Friday, UHCF was asked about the number of persons who are missing from the Haitian community. The National Emergency Management Agency has pegged the number of missing people at 1,300.
Rights Bahamas president Stephanie St Fleur said the organisation 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 comment on the demographics of the death toll.
“We formed a group called ‘Abaco Relief’ and we were having families sending the names of their family members and pictures, and so far, I think I’ve sent three pages into NEMA,” she said. “The total is 309 so far, and we’re still continuing to gather names of missing persons.”
Regarding concerns surrounding deportation of undocumented Haitian migrants, activist Louby Georges said on Friday that 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.”
Berea Seventh-Day Adventist Church Pastor Edward St Fleur also spoke of how UCHF is assisting with mental health recovery. “Many, especially the children, they have been traumatised,” Mr St Fleur said. “We have an organisation that’s ready to assist us in providing counselling,, either one-to-one or group counselling 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.”