By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
MANY displaced residents of The Mudd and Pigeon Peas shanty towns are wedged between a rock and a hard place because Haiti is in no position to accept them and their homes in Abaco have been completely wiped out.
Haiti has no functioning government; its parliament is not in session and it doesn’t have a national budget.
This was the opinion of Haitian Chargé d'Affaires Dorval Darlier yesterday, who said while he agrees with the government’s six-month construction ban in unregulated communities in Abaco, it highlights the uncertainty and fears of people who once called these places home. On Sunday, the government issued a ban ordering no new construction in those communities. The ban will be enforced for six months or longer if government sees the need.
But with Haiti’s government remaining in turmoil, Mr Darlier was noncommittal on advising people to return there. “You know we are in a situation of crisis right now,” Mr Darlier told The Tribune yesterday.
“We don’t have no legitimate government in place as you know. On both sides, there’s a lot of pressure. There are a lot of problems so to speak. We try to see what the best way to assist them (is), but in fact we are waiting.
“I’m not in the position to tell them go back or to stay. It’s up to them to know and see and wait (according) to the position they are …if they want to go back, if they want to stay. If they can stay, they stay. If they have to go, they have go,” he said.
Asked if his government planned to assist with accommodations for undocumented migrants and those of Haitian decent, Mr Darlier told The Tribune: “It’s early, but both governments are going to sit together very soon because we can come to an agreement to see what we’re going to do.”
But according to him, the Bahamas government has yet to agree to discussions.
He also said: “I am still waiting on my government to indicate how it can assist with the housing situation. I think you know we don’t have the government in place. There is no budget, absolutely nothing.
“We are waiting for the parliament. It is still not functioning that’s where we are stuck for now.”
Given the situation, Mr Darlier said he, along with the scores of displaced people, are depending on the compassion of the Bahamas government.
“I know the Bahamian government is very compassionate over the Haitian people and we are still waiting to see the best (way) they can help.
“We still expecting the best from them to continue to support Haitians because the Bahamians support Haitians for years and I’m still hoping they still have the good heart to continue,” he said.
Regarding the construction ban, Mr Darlier said: “Whatever decision the government has made I had to respect it. The land is not the Haitian community’s land, it’s for the government and they have to do what they feel is best for the country.”
On Sunday, the Ministry of Housing and Environment issued an order prohibiting the construction of residential or commercial buildings in The Mudd, Pigeon Peas, Sand Bank and Farm Road communities of Abaco.
The areas were flattened by Hurricane Dorian.
Before the hurricane decimated them, they had more than 1,000 homes and an estimated population size of 3,500, according to government reports.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has said buildings in these communities were of inferior construction and were not up to safety codes.
Until a plan for the areas has been finalised, the government plans to erect tent cities to get people back to Grand Bahama and Abaco.
Earlier this month, Mr Darlier appealed to the government to grant temporary asylum to undocumented migrants affected by Hurricane Dorian.
Last December, head of the Shanty Town Action Task Force, Senator Dion Foulkes said most shanty town dwellers across Abaco have legal status permitting them to reside in the country.