The US Department of State released the following statement:
In the aftermath of the Category 5 storm that hit the Bahamas earlier this year, the government has deported hundreds of undocumented Haitian migrants. The strongest storm on record to hit the Northwest Bahamas left thousands displaced, hundreds still missing and at least 70 dead. Dorian destroyed the two largest of the six Haitian shantytown communities on Abaco. In the days immediately following the storm, the government announced that it had suspended the deportation of immigrants in the affected areas. However, just two weeks after this declaration, non-regularized individuals were warned that they “are not safe” and told to “go home” if they lost a job as a result of the storm. That act alone has generated lots of ongoing criticism from various United Nations agencies as tensions continue to increase over the matter.
Hale met with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Security Marvin Dames, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) implementing partners and other government officials. The group was reportedly discussing the longstanding and enduring partnership between the two countries, as well as America’s continuing support for The Bahamas in the wake of the devastating storm. But, civilians in the states and on the islands alike don’t seem to be too trusting of these meetings.
Like anything else, only time will tell how much work will stem from these meetings being held so it may be too soon to mark a stamp of un-approval. Caribbeans of Haitian and Bahamian decent just feel a little uneasy about this random someone who they feel, at this time, may not do much but add fuel to the fire. The biggest concern people have voiced is questioning the real reason behind the visits. Some feel the US just stepped in to be a moderator for the start of the conversations and aren’t sure if they will actually lend a hand where it matters most.
Giving aid to despondent nations is a humanitarian gesture and promises several benefits. However, critics are also correct in saying there are loopholes in the system.
The best way to address this is to come up with a structural design to ensure aid is given to the right recipients and that it is properly implemented, with utmost focus on corruption.
In this case, unfortunately, only time will tell the real benefits to come from Hale’s visit, but we will surely be keeping an eye out.