Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has discouraged the thought of evacuating Dominicans who are resident in islands affected by Hurricane Irma.
The category 5 storm tore through islands of the Northern Lesser Antilles, last week Wednesday September 6 into the weekend, leaving Barbuda uninhabitable and St. Martin/Sint Maarten, islands of the British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Cuba and the Bahamas in ruins with millions of dollars’ worth of damage and a long road to recovery.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday 11 September 2017, Mr. Skerrit said mass evacuation of Dominicans from these countries would be a “badly conceived idea”.
“They have a responsibility to remain there and to assist with the rebuilding of these countries because in many of these countries the Dominicans play a very critical role in the economic and social development of these countries and if they were to be removed, extracted from these islands it would make it even more difficult for these countries to recover from this disaster,” he reasoned.
He cited the BVI’s Minister of Public Works who thanked him for the presence of Dominicans there.
“They have had the experience of Hurricane David so they know of the challenges, they know of the difficulties we had in Hurricane David and they are playing a critical role,” the prime minister said.
Dominicans he said also from part of the National Emergency Management Organization of the BVI.
“So you can imagine Dominicans who are nurses, police officers, who are doctors, engineers, who are builders there, who own businesses there…they’re meteorological officers or they’re business owners or teachers and police officers, they into politics there and representation there, so if we go to remove these people, extract them, I think it will be a bad signal from the part of the government to want to do this to a sister country that has been exceptionally helpful to Dominica,” he explained.
The government therefore will assist persons who for one reason or another due to their vulnerabilities, need to come back to Dominica.
Also persons with children who need to get them back into school he said there are Dominicans who have already offered to house them if they decide to send them to Dominica for that purpose.
“We will assist you with transporting these children back and ensuring that spaces at the schools are available to them and providing all the logistical support to attend any school of their choice in Dominica,” he said adding that a commitment was received from the President of the Regional Council of Martinique, he’s making a ferry available of one hundred and fifty seats as well as from CARICOM who will be coordinating the airlifting of CARICOM nationals.
“There were some people who were there for holidays, there were people on short stays who want to come back because they do not have a physical presence or permanence in those islands,” the prime minister said.